On 6 April 2017 the new s.53D of the Licensing Act 2003 came in to force. Intended to bring an end to the long-running debate about what happens to interim steps, imposed pending a summary review, following the decision on that summary review but pending an appeal against that decision, the new section makes clear what is to happen: the sub-committee hearing the summary review must:
(a) Consider whether any interim steps imposed pending that review are appropriate for the promotion of the licensing objectives;
(b) Consider any relevant representations about them; and
(c) Decide whether to withdraw them or to modify them.
Any steps imposed as a result of this process then apply until the appeal rights are exhausted (or such shorter time as the authority may decide).
Interestingly, the decision about interim steps is itself subject to a free-standing right of appeal. The new paragraph 8B of Schedule 5 to the Act provides that such an appeal must be heard by a magistrates' court within 28 days of the appeal being lodged. The time limit for appealing is 21 days, as with 'ordinary' appeals.
In what must be one of the very first summary reviews conducted under the new provisions, the licensing sub-committee of Bedford Borough Council last week revoked the premises licence of Vibe nightclub on St Peter's Street, Bedford, following an outbreak of disorder at the premises which resulted in a serious stabbing. The sub-committee heard evidence that a number of violent incidents had occurred during an event at Vibe on the night of 24th March 2017, such that a summary review had been brought. The premises licence was suspended as an interim step on 29 March 2017.
The sub-committee accepted the Police case that there had been serious management failings on that evening, including clearing up a crime scene in direct contravention of police advice at the time, and considered that they had heard nothing from Vibe to reassure them that such failings would not happen again in the future.
On the position pending appeal, they accepted the Police argument that having decided that revocation was the only proportionate and appropriate step in the circumstances, it was right that the premises licence should remain suspended pending any appeal against that decision. It is understood that the company operating Vibe intends to appeal that decision and so – assuming a listing can be secured in time - this may be the first such appeal under the new provisions that is heard.
Josef Cannon acted for Bedfordshire Police.