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Licensing news England and Wales - August 2018

This month in summary

Licensing News

Hackney Licensing Policy debate rumbles on

Following Hackney Council's decision to implement a new Statement of Licensing Policy including 'core' or 'framework' hours for new applications borough-wide there has been a great deal of debate since as to whether the new policy is a good or a bad thing.

The Licensing Act 2003 requires all Councils in England and Wales to have a Statement of Licensing Policy and to keep that policy under review. Once every 5 years a Council must determine its licensing policy and publish a statement to that effect. Before determining the policy the Council must consult with a range of statutory and other bodies.

The debate over Hackney's Licensing Policy hinges on the consultation undertaken by the Council in the run up to determining the policy.

The Council says that it received a wide range of evidence from various sources highlighting the problems caused by licensed premises in Hackney.

Those opposed to the policy say that the Council ignored the vast number of respondents to the consultation who considered the new policy to be a retrograde step.

'Core' or 'framework' hours aren't a new phenomenon. They can be found in licensing policies up and down the country, but it has been interesting to see the battle lines drawn in respect of Hackney's policy. With lots of Statements of Licensing Policy up for review in the year to come, does the situation in Hackney typify an appetite for operators and those with an interest in licensing to engage in the consultation process?

We regularly advise clients on responses to policy and cumulative impact assessment consultations and if you have any questions about licensing policies do get in touch.

Minimum Unit Pricing in Wales

After Scotland introduced Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP to its friends) on the 1st of May this year it seems almost certain that Wales will follow suit.

The Public Health (Minimum Price for Alcohol) (Wales) Act 2018 has received Royal Assent after being approved by the National Assembly for Wales back in June.

The Welsh government says that there with be a consultation this Autumn to help ministers determine what the MUP should be. The MUP in Scotland is currently 50p though that was set in 2012 before the Scottish Government's long-running battle with the Scottish Malt Whisky Association. It is thought that Welsh ministers might impose a higher MUP of 60p or more to reflect inflation since 2012.

The current plan is that MUP would be introduced Summer 2019 but there is no further detail as to exactly when that will be.

Licensing appeal fees cut to £70

The fee for appealing a licensing sub-committee decision to the Magistrates' Court has been reduced to £70 down from £410.

This is a result of The Court of Protection, Civil Proceedings and Magistrates Courts Fees (Amendment) Order 2018, which came into force on the 25th of July.

The Order has also changed the fee for an application to state a case to the High Court to £155 and has set the fee for an appeal (where no other fee is specified) to £70.

According to the Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the Order, the amendments to the various fees are to 'reflect the levels of service involved'.

Time will tell as to whether this will see an increase in the number of decisions to the Magistrates' Court. Are you considering an appeal? Give us a call to explore your options.

Airside Licensing: Drunkenness on the Rise

Regular readers may recall that one of the recommendations made by their Lordships' in relation to the Licensing Act 2003 was the extension of the regime "airside."

That recommendation is likely to be revisited following the release of figures by the Civil Aviation Authority that show that there have been more than 200 reports of disruptive behaviour by passengers already this year. 

The Authority has called on both enforcement agencies and airlines to make better use of their powers to combat the rise in violence and drunkenness and that is sure to lead for calls for the licensing position at airports to be re-visited once more.

Gambling News

The Gambling Commission issues warning to online operators about their withdrawal policies

Following a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation into unfair terms and practices in the online gambling sector their report highlighted customers being unfairly prevented from withdrawing their money.

All gambling firms are now required to adhere to the standards set out by the CMA.

This warning comes on the back of new rules announced in July enabling the Commission to act quickly in respect of breaches of consumer law.

Out & About

This month we've been busy licensing in Sicily, Miami and Greece… We wish. Okay, so that's not quite true but it is holiday season and whilst a few of us have been on our travels, it hasn't stopped us. We've been in Westminster, Bristol, Reading, Birmingham, Chatham and Aberdeen amongst others this August.

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at August 2018. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

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