A premises licence is issued in perpetuity and provided the annual fee is paid on time every year, there is no need to reapply for the same premises licence. However, is it open to licensing sub-committees to grant licences for a period shorter than what was initially applied for? In a recent case, a court ruled it is not.
In the case the applicant AEG, an event promotion company, applied for a premises licence to run an event in Victoria Park for 5 years. After receiving objections, the application was referred to the licensing sub-committee for a determination.
The licensing sub-committee granted AEG a premises licence but limited it to a two year “probationary” licence.
AEG appealed the decision, arguing that it is not within the statutory remit of the licensing sub-committee to grant shorter term licences because the Act and statutory guidance does not make reference to the grant of a “probationary” licence. Furthermore, AEG argued that the review process exists to address any post-grant issues with the licence and this was the correct route that the licensing sub-committee should have adopted.
District Judge Rose hearing the appeal said: “I am persuaded by the arguments advanced by the appellants that it was wrong in principle for the committee to grant a licence for a lesser period than that requested. Section 18(4) sets out the options available to the licensing committee. The committee had determined that it was appropriate to grant a licence with the conditions attached and in making that decision must have been satisfied that those were the conditions that were necessary for the promotion of the licensing objectives. That licence ought to have been granted for the five years that was sought. It would then have been subject to the statutory review procedure in the Act if a review were sought by an interested party or a responsible authority. What the committee sought to do was to grant a ‘probationary’ licence for which there is no specific provision in the Act and which is contrary to the scheme of the Act. There is no power to extend a licence as asserted by [the Council].”
Comment on the case
This was a Magistrates’ Court case and it is therefore not binding. However, it does go some way to providing licence holder and future applicants with a level of confidence particularly in the growing event sector where premises licences are crucial. The judgement in this case was thorough and will provide helpful guidance in future cases no doubt.