Licensing Act 2003 – What else can we expect in 2017?
Civil servants are likely to be fairly busy dealing with the unravelling of laws, following the triggering of Brexit under Article 50. However, I have also heard that the Government only has a third of the civil servants it needs to do that job alone, let alone look at other legislative changes it may be considering. We could therefore expect a fairly quiet year in terms of licensing, but the Government has already announced its intention to introduce a number of changes and, of course, we have the minimum unit pricing debate which continues to rumble on in Scotland.
House of Lords Select Committee
The Committee will report back to the Government in March 2017. Many of the questions have focused on the introduction of a fifth licensing objective (that of public health) the working between planning and licensing, the appeal system and the regulation of premises serving alcohol airside.
Minimum Unit Pricing
The Scottish Government has decided to continue with its move to impose a 50p minimum unit price. That decision has now been appealed by the Scottish Whisky Association to the Supreme Court. We can expect a decision from the Supreme Court in 2017. It will need to consider the compatibility of a minimum unit price against the laws of the European Union (for now!), and whether there are other more proportionate measures open to the Scottish Government to protect the health of Scotland, rather than a minimum unit price.
Immigration Act 2016
The requirement will be introduced for an applicant for a Premises Licence or Personal Licence Holder to prove that they have a “right of residency” in the United Kingdom and, should that right cease or be withdrawn, that any Personal or Premises Licences will automatically lapse should that “right of residency” no longer exist.
The power for a Licensing Authority to revoke or suspend a Personal Licence in the event it becomes aware that an individual has been convicted of a relevant offence by a Court will commence.
The introduction of a limit on the number of “appeals” which can be brought by a Premises Licence Holder on 48 hours’ notice, against an Interim Steps decision made by a Licensing Authority. There will be a limit of one, unless there is a material change in circumstances. There will also be a requirement for the Licensing Authority to re-consider the Interim Steps and decide if they continue after the hearing of the review following the Interim Steps hearing.
There will be a right of appeal against any decision by the Licensing Authority as to whether such Interim Steps should or should not continue, with a requirement for the Magistrates’ Court to hear the appeal within 28 days of the notice of appeal.
So, whilst Brexit will be keeping the Government ever so slightly busy, licensing is by no means going to be forgotten!