This month in summary
From the 6 April 2017, the sections of the Immigration Act 2016 relating to licensed premises have come into force. The changes come following the laying before Parliament of the Licensing Act 2003 (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2017 in March this year.
We have detailed the new obligations under the Immigration Act in previous newsletters, but as part of the provisions, new licensing forms have been released by the Home Office for a large number of different licence applications, including personal licences, changes to DPS , new licence applications and TENs. The new forms need to be used immediately to ensure applications are not rejected for being technically incorrect.
The changes relate in the main to the personal information required to to prove an applicant's right to work in England and Wales. In a number of cases, the forms contain new declarations to be signed confirming that the applicant is entitled to work in the UK and is not subject to any condition restricting such right. False declarations can lead to unlimited fines on successful prosecution.
The forms are on the Gov.uk website
The House of Lords Select Committee has reported following its in-depth and lengthy investigation into the Licensing Act, some 12 years after it came into full force.
TLT actively took part in the process and comments made in the TLT response relating to the Late Night Levy were quoted directly in the report by suggesting that the LNL 're-framed the discussion in terms of who is responsible for causing the problems in the night time economy'.
The report is over 160 pages in length and goes into significant detail in terms of both the evidence presented and the Committee's recommendations.
The Committee has been scathing in its criticism of the legislation, the framework established by it, and the committees enforcing it.
The criticisms are directed at the raft of changes made to the Act before it had a chance to bed in, including major changes made by six separate pieces of legislation relating to policing and crime that came from the same department responsible for Act itself. Piecemeal amendments by nine Acts of Parliament and various other pieces of secondary legislation, along with the regular changes to Guidance are all held accountable for what the committee deem to be an 'unfortunate' birth for the legislation.
Ad hoc attempts to 'fix' perceived problems such as the Late Night Levy and Early Morning Restriction Orders come under attack for their obvious flaws and failings, all of which, they suggest, should have been avoided.
They also raise concerns that the Policing and Crime Act 2017 will remove proper consultation as well as Parliamentary scrutiny from on-going changes to the Guidance.
The Licensing Act, in the Committee's opinion, was misconceived from the very start. Having a separate local authority licensing committee was a waste of time and resource, when the planning system already in place had enough similarity and overlap with licensing to manage the process. The Committee saw the requirement for separate licensing legislation, but not the need for a separate process.
The Committee did say, however, that they saw no good reason to change the four licensing objectives. In particular whilst the Committee recognised health and wellbeing as necessary and desirable objectives in alcohol strategy, they accepted that it is not appropriate as a licensing objective.
The Committee concluded that 'The evidence received about the poor operation of licensing committees was convincing and the Committee was extremely concerned by what it heard.' This criticism relates to the consistency of decision making and the fact that witnesses from all sides felt that even the right results often were achieved by luck rather than a committee's good judgement. The conclusion reached by the Committee was that the system for determining licensing applications is in need of significant reform.
Recommendations that may see the light of day
A number of the recommendations made by the Committee could be implemented relatively easily, or have already been the subject of consultation. The most important are:
This is not to suggest that all of the above will be implemented, only that some of them are likely to be revisited and could potentially lead to changes.
The full report can be found here
Recommendations unlikely to be implemented
The Committee made the following recommendations based on their finding that that Licensing Committees were unnecessary and complicated matters. These are unlikely to result in any changes in the short to medium term as they would require a fundamental re-drafting of the Act:
The Gambling Commission has published its business plan for 2017/2018 outlining its focus and priorities in key areas for the next financial year.
The Commission will focus on five key areas:
The Commission is also seeking the views of key stakeholders on their future strategy. Given the likely changes in the way the Gambling Commission enforces against operators, in particular in relation to protecting the young and vulnerable from gambling, it is a good time for the industry to ensure its voice is heard.
The commission have stated that they are looking for suggestions on how to:
"improve how we deliver our core responsibilities. There is also a need to build and maintain consumer trust against the back drop of changing consumer behaviour. To do this, we wish to encourage the industry to be increasingly innovative to continue to keep gambling safe, fair and crime free."
Further information can be found here
The start of spring has seen us taking to road and rail on behalf of clients up and down the country. Hearings in Bradford, Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Richmond Upon Thames and Epping Forest to name a few- saw us appearing for clients in relation summary reviews, variations and new licence applications. In addition, it was a busy month for meetings and training, including giving a full days training to London Fire Brigade in relation to large scale outdoor events, attending safeguarding in licensing training and BIL and ALMR licensing meetings. Add to that a trip to Beer X and it all adds up to a busy month.
This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at April 2017. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions