Offering the world or accepting an overly-onerous deal… Is there another way?
Applicants for new premises licences are expected to offer conditions in their operating schedule which demonstrate the appropriate steps necessary to promote the four licensing objectives:
The Prevention of Crime and Disorder;
The Protection of Children from Harm;
Public Safety; and
The Prevention of Public Nuisance.
Conditions can range from (and are certainly by no means limited to) the employment of door staff, to CCTV systems and conditions regarding when you can and can’t open your windows.
Guidance issued by the Home Office pursuant to s.182 of the Licensing Act 2003 states:
“Applicants are expected to include positive proposals in their application on how they will manage any potential risks […]”
“Applicants are expected to provide licensing authorities with sufficient information in this section to determine the extent to which their proposed steps are appropriate to promote the licensing objectives in the local area.”
Complications occasionally arise where a licensing authority or a responsible authority (e.g. Police, Environmental Health) request conditions which an applicant feels are overly onerous or perhaps disproportionate when weighed against the type of premises that is proposed to be run. It is becoming an unfortunately common occurrence for various responsible authorities to seek the imposition of a bank of standard conditions for new applications, which it is suspected might not always be subjectively vetted. Indeed, the s.182 Guidance states:
“Applications must not be based on providing a set of standard conditions to promote the licensing objectives and applicants are expected to make it clear why the steps they are proposing are appropriate for the premises.”
Where applicants are not keen to agree blanket standard conditions and where responsible authorities do not wish to receive applications with no conditions proposed, the sensible approach would appear, in most cases, to be for the applicant, or their solicitor, to engage with the responsible authorities prior to the submission of an application. The extra time and care taken in the early stage can sometimes ensure a smoother application process and (hopefully) fewer representations being made.