High Court to rule on lawfulness of remote licensing hearings

14 May 2024

Licensing, Local Government

The High Court will hear a challenge to a licensing authority’s use of remote hearings tomorrow (Wednesday 15 May 2024).

A nightclub in Catford, south-east London, has appealed against the revocation of its premises licence in November 2022 by the Licensing Committee of the London Borough of Lewisham. Among the grounds of appeal is a challenge to Lewisham’s use of Microsoft Teams to conduct the hearing.

In April 2023, District Judge Abdel-Sayed ruled in Lewisham’s favour, agreeing with the Council that remote hearings were permitted under the Licensing Act 2003 and the Licensing Act (Hearings) Regulations 2005.

The nightclub issued an appeal by case stated against the District Judge’s decision, which is due to be heard by the High Court on 15 May 2024.

This will be the first time the senior courts have considered this issue and the ruling will affect every licensing authority in England. Although there is no firm data, it is understood that roughly one-third of licensing authorities in London use a remote hearing procedure (fully or “hybrid”) and as do many authorities across England.

Matt Lewin, a member of Cornerstone Barristers’ Licensing Team, is representing the London Borough of Lewisham, led by Stephen Walsh KC and instructed by Rachel Lyne and Krishna Pancholi at Browne Jacobson.