Closure Notices and Orders
As part of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime & Policing Act 2014, the police and local authority have the power to close a venue down instantly if they think it is the cause of anti-social behaviour, Disorder or Nuisance.
While closure notices and orders are usually issued in the interests of public safety and to preserve public order, understandably this can have serious knock-on effects for a business such as a pub, bar or club. If your premises is the subject of a closure notice or closure order, you will want to evaluate your options in order to minimise the impact on your business.
Closure notices may be issued that require the premises to remain closed for up to 48 hours from the date of issue. These Closure Notices last for up to 48 hours before being referred to the Magistrates’ Court if they are not withdrawn or extended by the Court.
The police or licensing authority must inform the owner or landlord of the premises before issuing a closure notice. The notice must also clearly state the effects of a closure order on the premises, as well as stating that failure to comply with the closure notice is an offence and the date the Magistrates Court will consider the case
The police or local authority can then apply to the Magistrate’s Court for the closure notice to be confirmed as a closure order, which will close the premises in question for a longer period of time.
Due to the short issue notice period of closure notices, it is imperative that you seek legal advice once you have received a closure notice in order to minimise the damage caused and before a decision is made on issuing a closure order.
The Magistrates Court can then order the premises to remain closed for three to six months. This is known as a closure order, or closure of premises order which also automatically triggers a review of your premises licence. This will come with its own set of potential consequences for your business.
For this to occur, the court must be satisfied that the premises in question has or will be used for public nuisance or disorder, specifically:
- If a person has engaged or is likely to engage in disorderly, offensive or illegal activity on the premises.
- That the use of the premises has resulted, or is likely to result in, a serious nuisance to members of the public.
- That there has been, or is likely to be disorder near the premises that is associated with the use of the premises.
If any of the above has occurred at the premises in question in the eyes of the police or local authority, and the closure of the premises is necessary to reduce or prevent the disorderly behaviour from happening further then there will be sufficient grounds for the closure order to be served.
Like with closure notices, failure to comply with a closure of premises order is a criminal offence. Closure orders can be withdrawn or extended if the Magistrates Court sees fit to do so.
How long does a closure order last?
The Magistrate’s Court can order a premises to remain closed for three to six months with a closure order, with the initial ruling of a three month closure and the option of the police or local authority to apply for an extension of the closure order up to six months if deemed necessary.
At any point before the closure order is due to expire, an application can be made to have the order discharged by any relevant parties with an interest in the premises so it is imperative that you seek legal advice if you are the subject of a closure order on your premises.
What actions can you take when you receive a closure order?
You have the chance to appeal the decision of a closure order within 21 days of the date of the decision in the Magistrate’s Court, due to the short time periods involved and the potentially dramatic outcomes, it is imperative that you seek legal advice as soon as you are handed a closure notice.
As one of the largest specialist licensing lawyers in the UK, we have a wealth of experience dealing with these situations and can help give your case the best possible chance of success. Speed is of the essence for the best outcome, so get in touch as soon as possible.
A police officer of at least the rank of inspector, or the local authority, may issue a closure notice if satisfied on reasonable grounds:
- that the use of particular premises has resulted, or (if the notice is not issued) is likely soon to result, in nuisance to members of the public, or
- that there has been, or (if the notice is not issued) is likely soon to be, disorder near those premises associated with the use of those premises.
A closure notice may prohibit access—
- by all persons except those specified, or by all persons except those of a specified description;
- at all times, or at all times except those specified;
- in all circumstances, or in all circumstances except those specified.
disorderly, offensive or criminal behaviour on the premises or near those premises and associated with the use of those premises.
In England and Wales, a magistrates' court is a lower court, where all the criminal proceedings start and some civil matter including appeals against decisions of local licensing authorities.
serious nuisance to members of the public