Peering into the misty future: The annual Now & Next seminars with the IoL

21 May 2021

On 18 and 20 May 2021 the Cornerstone Barristers Licensing Team, headed by Asitha Ranatunga and Josef Cannon, delivered their annual Now & Next series of webinars in conjunction with the Institute of Licensing. The Now & Next series, which has been running for several years now, is designed to take a look at what is coming down the track in licensing practice – new legislation, emerging issues, and topics of concern – rather than focus on the law as it is presently. The Cornerstone Barristers team, with most of its members also experienced in at least one other field of public law work, is ideally placed to offer that view.

This year, by necessity delivered remotely via Zoom, the team attempted to peer into perhaps the least clear future for many years: on the one hand, emerging from lockdown and restarting the hospitality/entertainment industry appears tantalisingly close, but just as it does the concern of a new variant and a rise in COVID-19 infections raises a worrying question-mark.

Nonetheless, peer they did: on Tuesday Matthew Lewin and Ben Du Feu began with a characteristically clear overview of the current state of post-COVID play, Asitha Ranatunga took a detailed look at the recent decision of the High Court in the Hertfordshire case about remote meetings in local government, before Ben Du Feu turned his eyeglass to the taxi industry – what reforms and changes might be coming down the line? A lively Q&A session followed, with questions mainly – and understandably – focusing on the future of remote meetings and hearings.

On Thursday the afternoon session kicked off with Ruchi Parekh and John Fitzsimons outlining the recent coming to the fore of the Agent of Change principle, its growing role in planning, and the implications for licensed premises and for licensing. Dr Ashley Bowes then gave an excellent overview of recent changes to the Use Classes regime as it affects what might be called Town Centre uses, and some background (and predictions) as to the forthcoming Planning Bill, with its promise of a move towards zoning, before Josef Cannon put those changes in a licensing context with some views about how the idea of zoning might have implications for licensing professionals, as well as the potential issues thrown up by the new freedom to change from Class E uses to residential. To finish, Josef and Rowan Clapp took a look at the outdoor festival sector – reflecting on the lost 2020 summer, Rowan brought us up to date with what is planned for this summer and what the challenges might be, before Josef finished with a look at a few key issues facing the sector (and those that regulate it) for this summer and beyond.

Members of the Cornerstone Licensing Team are always available to provide training, advice and assistance with your licensing issues. If you would like to discuss the ways in which we can help, please contact us.