How to object to a licence application
If you want to object to an application you must make a 'representation' to the licensing authority by the closing date.
Who can make a representation?
Any person may make a relevant representation against a licence application.
A person cannot make representations anonymously. This is because, for example, the licensing authority needs to be satisfied that the person making the representation is not being vexatious. It is also important that an applicant can respond to a representation.
If the person making a representation or request for review is concerned about possible intimidation, they could consider asking the police, or another appropriate responsible authority to make a representation on their behalf.
How to make a representation
Representations must be made in writing and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember to include your full name and postal address including the postcode. Representations must be received by the licensing authority by the closing date.
For representations to be relevant they must relate to at least one of the licensing objectives. The four licensing objectives are:
- the prevention of crime and disorder
- public safety
- the prevention of public nuisance
- the protection of children from harm
If any person is concerned that granting a licence in the terms it has been applied for is likely to have an adverse effect on the promotion of one or more of these objectives, they have 28 consecutive days, starting on the day after the day on which the application was given to the council, to make a representation to the council.
It is helpful if the representations or requests for reviews are specific to the premises and based on evidence. You may wish to keep a record of problems by keeping a diary with dates and times. You could even obtaining photographic evidence of any incidents, if possible.
If the matter goes to a hearing the councillors at the hearing will need to be satisfied that there is an evidential and causal link between the representations made and the effect on the licensing objectives. Within your representation you may wish to suggest amendments or a compromise to the application for the applicant to consider.
Please remember that any representation must be factually correct. It is an offence to knowingly or recklessly make a false statement in connection with an application and the maximum fine for which a person is liable on summary conviction for such an offence is £5,000.
The licensing authority can only consider representations or requests that are not 'vexatious' or 'frivolous'.
What happens after a representation has been made?
The council sends all relevant representations to the applicant prior to the publication of the panel report in accordance with the Licensing Act 2003 (Hearings) Regulations 2005.
If you have any concerns in respect of your personal details being disclosed to the applicant, you should detail this and the reasons within your representation. In some exceptional circumstances the licensing authority may withhold some or all of your personal details from the applicant. Withholding personal details will only be considered where the circumstances justifies this and the licensing authority is satisfied that the complaints are not frivolous or vexatious.
The applicant may contact you to discuss your concerns and try to resolve the issues you have raised. Should your concerns be satisfactorily addressed, you may withdraw your representation at any time. You may also be invited to attend a mediation meeting with the applicant to discuss your concerns.
If we consider that the representations are valid, we must hold a hearing to consider those representations or request unless all parties can come to an agreement beforehand, and agree that a hearing is unnecessary. For example, we may try to resolve matters via a negotiated agreement outside a formal hearing. You will need to decide if this is appropriate for you. You can decide that you do not agree with the proposed settlement and then your representation will go before a hearing.
If the application is to go to a hearing we will write to inform you of the date and time of the hearing and will explain the format of the hearing.
If an applicant withdraws their application after a hearing date has been arranged, we will write to you to let you know that the hearing has been cancelled, wherever possible. Applications can be withdrawn at any time up to 24 hours before the hearing so this may not be possible. A person making a representation should be aware that if they make representations about an application that is later withdrawn, and the applicant makes a new, amended application, their representations will not automatically be taken forward. Any amended application would need to be re-advertised as set out above. Only then will there be an opportunity to decide whether to make representations about the new application.
Before the hearing
Any person making a representation is required to give notice to the licensing authority at least five working days before the start of the hearing, stating:
- whether they will attend the hearing in person
- whether they will be represented by someone else such as a friend, councillor or lawyer
- whether they think that a hearing is unnecessary (if, for example they have come to an agreement before the formal hearing).
- if they want another person to appear at the hearing (not to represent them)
- a request for permission for the person to attend
- details of their name
- how they may be able to assist the authority in relation to the application
We will write to you at the appropriate time to remind you to give us these details. You must let the licensing authority know as soon as possible (by a letter no later than 24 hours before the start of a hearing, or orally at the hearing) if you wish to withdraw your representation.
At the hearing
Hearings take place before a panel of three councillors from the Licensing and Safety Committee. Hearings are generally held in public, unless the panel decides it is in the public interest to hold all, or part of the hearing in private. If there are a number of representations against an application then representors will be asked to appoint a single spokesperson to represent the views of all the representors.
You do not have to attend the hearing however this is your opportunity to put forward your case. Please note that if you or the applicant decides not to attend the hearing it may go ahead without you or the applicant being present. Your written representation or review request will still be considered.
At the start of the hearing the procedure will be explained. The panel will consider evidence produced before the hearing. It can also consider additional documentary evidence produced by a party at the hearing, but only if all parties agree. Cross-examination of one party by another during a hearing is not usually allowed. The parties are entitled to address the panel and will be able to ask questions of any other party through the chairman of the panel.
As a result of the hearing, the licensing authority must then decide how to proceed in order to promote the licensing objectives. It may:
- grant or vary the licence in the terms it was applied for
- refuse to issue or vary the licence
- grant or vary the licence but with changed or additional conditions
- exclude from the licence a licensable activity
- in the case of a premises licence, refuse to specify a person as the premises supervisor
A decision will usually be given at the end of the hearing and confirmed in writing. We will include information on the right of a party to appeal against the decision.
Can I appeal against a decision?
Either the applicant or a representor can appeal against the decision of the licensing panel within 21 days of the written notification. Such an appeal has to be made to the Magistrates' Court. An appeal triggers a complete re-hearing of the matter. Whilst costs are not awardable by the council against any party making a representation, or requesting a review, a Magistrates' Court can award costs either for or against any party which lodged the appeal.