A Busy Start to the New Year - Enforcement Action Seems to be on the Rise

13 Jan

On Monday the 9th of January two of the firm’s Partners, Christopher Grunert and Luke Elford, were separately involved in two Expedited Review hearings in Sheffield and Westminster, respectively. Luke’s Westminster hearing, which involved a SEV venue, attracted national attention with the proceedings and the eventual outcome being reported prominently by the BBC and regional papers.

Both Summary Review proceedings had been issued by the Police and, in both instances, the Police and other bodies sought the revocation of our client’s Premises Licences.

In both cases, the Police would not entertain any form of conciliation or compromise. Despite this, both teams from JG&P presented a strong case to the respective Licensing Sub-Committees and preserved their clients’ Premises Licences despite loud calls for revocation from the Police and others.

Although the two cases arose from different facts, they were taken under the same Expedited Review procedure. Both reviews were instigated using the Summary Review proceedings in early December; thus having severe impacts on the clients during one of the most important trading periods for any hospitality business. These proceedings can only be commenced by the Police, where they allege that the premises are associated with serious crime and/or serious disorder.

Following the issue of proceedings, the Licensing Authority is required to consider the implementation of Interim Steps within two working days which can include an immediate suspension of the licence.

Despite the short notice, Luke and Chris reacted quickly to defend their clients and their critical premises licences. Another feature of these proceedings is that the final review hearing must take place within 28 days. The Christmas and New Year breaks fell into this period reducing further the working days to prepare for the final crucial hearings, but as a practice, we have the depth of resources to surmount such pressures and we are available to our clients 24/7.

Chris and Luke worked through Christmas preparing for their clients’ hearings which were ultimately successfully defended.

The firm has noticed an apparent increase in Enforcement Action across the country with Authorities using the most draconian of powers against licensees. The halcyon days of the ‘four E’s’ approach of Engage, Educate, Encourage and (then) Enforce regrettably appear to have passed.

Commenting on the outcomes, Michelle Hazlewood (Senior Partner) said:

“The work undertaken by Chris and Luke ensured that the evidence of the police was fully interrogated at the hearings and this allowed our client’s voice and explanation as to the events and the way forward from the trigger events to be heard by the Sub-Committee, in doing so they both achieved a phenomenal result for the client – the licences were retained and they can continue to trade, which is all any operator wants to do. These results show the quality and experience of the team in the licensing arena and also their passion for the hospitality sector.” 

If you face similar proceedings and require our expert assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Law correct at the date of publication.
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