John Gaunt & Partners authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority - SRA No. 173393.
Solicitors of England & Wales
© John Gaunt & Partners 2013. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Alcohol & Entertainment
- Regulatory Services
Pro-active regulation of licenced premises is on the rise with increased frequency of regulatory visits with all the implications which these can bring in terms of prosecution, review and closure.
All our Solicitors have extensive regulatory experience. If you discover potential investigation or prosecution is under way, we can offer prompt and comprehensive representation and advice.
We are committed to "prevention" rather than "cure" and clients are updated on material changes in the Law as they arise:
- Prevention - in terms of proactive advice on systems of due diligence with system audits being undertaken and advice on best practice.
- Cure - in terms of pro-active defence to any ongoing investigation or prosecution.
We offer Seminars dealing with compliance issues.
Our booklet, the “Little Red Book”, which is designed to assist with best practice with due diligence, has been revised and updated to reflect recent changes in the licensing laws – and now becomes the Little Book of Licensing Tips.
Aimed principally at premises managers, it is a useful guide to licensing ‘good housekeeping’ and basic due diligence.
Copies are available free of charge on request. Please let us know if you would like a copy or indeed a few.
Although Premises Licences once in force last for the life of the business, it is possible at any time for an application for a Review of the Premises Licence to be made. These Reviews can result in the loss of the Licence and should be treated with the utmost seriousness.
A Review can be initiated by a Responsible Authority such as the Police or Environmental Health or by residents living or businesses operating within the vicinity of the premises (and now since January 2010 - by elected members of the Licensing Authority) who claim that the Premises are not promoting the 4 licensing objectives to the detriment of affected parties. On Review, sanctions can include the removal of the Designated Premises Supervisor, suspension of the Licence for up to 3 months or revocation of the Licence! Immediate advice should be sought if you are confronting a review application or one is threatened.
There is also now the power for the Police to initiate an expedited or Summary Licence Review with the result that licensed premises can have interim steps imposed upon them within 48 hours which can remain in place until a formal Review is considered within 28 days. This can occur where it is considered that the premises are associated with serious crime and/or disorder. Again immediate advice must be obtained in such circumstances.
We have experience across the country in confronting Reviews and in advising as to the most effective way of addressing an application.
The Licensing Act contains various powers enabling the Police to close or seek the closure of the licensed premises for a limited period of time, particularly where there is a belief that there is or will imminently be disorder at the premises.
Where any premises are threatened with a Closure Order or indeed served a Closure Notice, urgent legal advice should be taken with a view to seeking to address the issue outside the formal procedures, thereby avoiding the possible closure. Our 24 hour helpline is there to ensure this service is available whenever it has to be called upon. The powers to seek a closure are various and specific advice can be given if required.
The team at John Gaunt & Partners have extensive experience of all the relevant provisions and in seeking to avoid the possibility of closure or confronting an application to close.
Our 24 hour Helpline - 0114 266 3400
The enforcement of the legislation in respect of under age sales, be it of alcohol or tobacco or the under age playing of gaming machines, is a constant threat to licensed premises and can result in prosecution and/or Review of a Premises Licence.
John Gaunt & Partners regularly advise on due diligence systems to avoid or reduce the possibility of under age sales taking place and also deal with the consequences where such sales have taken place. In respect of tobacco sales, we will advise on the technical defence available to most operators of licensed premises whereby they cannot be guilty of an offence of such sale.
Operators of licensed premises should be alert to the offence of ‘persistent sale of alcohol to under age persons' which is an absolute offence to which there is no defence for the Premises Licence Holder, where there have been (since 29 January 2010) just two under age sales within the same premises within a 3 month period.
Operators need to ensure that they are aware of any regulatory activity at their premises and review their due diligence systems with this in mind.
Conviction of this offence can lead to a £10,000 fine, and/or the suspension of the ability to sell alcohol for up to 3 months - and could lead, of course, to a premises licence review.
Licensed premises are increasingly subject to complaints about noise, both from within and outside the premises. This has been particularly exacerbated by the smoking ban which has lead to increased numbers of patrons outside premises, often late at night.
We can advise on the various noise regulations which affect licensed premises, both in terms of the monitoring of internal noise and in confronting objections to noise from both within and outside premises. We will address issues raised by Noise Abatement Notices and prosecutions, many of which we have been called upon to deal around the country.
Various offences can be committed under the Weights and Measures legislation, particularly in respect of short measures and/or under strength measures.
The team at John Gaunt & Partners are well experienced in advising on due diligence defences to avoid such issues but also in advising clients when offences are alleged, representing them at PACE interviews under caution and dealing with any subsequent prosecutions.
In respect of many areas of regulatory activity, it is possible for operators to seek to establish the defence of "due diligence".
We are pro-active in advocating appropriate due diligence systems and advising on them.
Any possibility of a due diligence defence is almost impossible without a clear paper trail.
We regularly advise on the implementation of due diligence systems within licensed premises and chains of licensed premises, including the all important monitoring of such systems and appropriate feed back.
Where a regulatory issue arises, we will often represent clients with the enforcing authorities in their initial discussions and in any formal PACE interview whereby we will assist in setting out the due diligence processes in place and upon which reliance was made. Should prosecution follow, we will represent clients at the eventual hearing.
As indicated earlier, we are committed to prevention rather than cure but equally where issues arise, we will review all the evidence and assist in the preparation of the most robust case possible to rebut the issues to be confronted.
One of our "claims to fame" is that we have avoided the possibility of a prosecution far more frequently than we have had to address the consequences of such a prosecution.