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Objecting to licensing applications

See also:

How licence applications are processed

When a new licence is applied for, or an application is received to vary the terms of an existing licence, the applicant has a statutory duty to advertise the application in the local press and display notices on or adjacent to the premises for a full 28 days. The Licensing Unit also advertises the current applications.

Copies of the application have to be sent, by the applicant, to the 'responsible authorities' - including the police, local environmental health department, trading standards, and the fire authority etc.

The responsible authorities and any other person can make representations regarding an application. As long as the representation is relevant to the application and the licensing objectives it can lead to mediation or a hearing and either conditions being imposed or even the licence being refused.

When relevant representations are correctly made regarding an application but mediation unsuccessful, the Licensing Authority must hold a hearing to consider the application (unless all agree that this is unnecessary). The Licensing Authority then has choices as to how it proceeds depending upon what is appropriate for the promotion of the licensing objectives. 

It may:

  • Decide to grant or vary the licence in the same terms as it was applied for.
  • Decide that it is necessary to refuse to issue or vary the licence.
  • Decide to grant or vary the licence, but to modify the conditions.
  • Exclude from the scope of the licence a licensable activity.

In cases where no relevant representation is received the licence, or variation, must be granted as applied for subject to the mandatory conditions.

A similar approach is taken in respect of club premises certificates and provisional statements.

The Act gives all parties to a licensing application the right of appeal to the local Magistrates' court, within 21 days of the decision being published, if they feel the decision made is unjust.

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How to make an objection/representation

If you consider that the granting a new premises licence, or changing the terms of an existing licence (or club certificate) would undermine any of the licensing objectives, or you support an application you can make representation to the relevant Licensing Authority. This applies to any member of the public, a local resident or business, as well as responsible authorities. 

For Southwick, Shoreham and Lancing the licensing authority is Adur District Council and for the Borough of Worthing this is Worthing Borough Council.

All parties have 28 days to make such a representation to the Licensing Authority by contacting the Licensing Unit. To be accepted as a relevant representation that can be considered by officers and the Licensing Committee a representations must be in writing and must include:

  • your name,
  • your address, and
  • the application you are objecting to,
  • your reasons for making representation,

To be classed relevant, your representation must tie in your views with the licensing objectives and in your letter it is important that you include all of your reasons for making the representation. If your letter is accepted you will be invited to attend any licensing hearing that considers the matter and if you wish you can address the committee. However, you are only allowed to clarify what you have put in writing in the representation and are not allowed to introduce new reasons and arguments. The rules of natural justice dictate that no issue or argument should come as a surprise to any party to a hearing so any new issues/arguments would have to be ignored by the members when making their decision. 

You can also apply to the licensing authority to 'review' a licence or certificate if problems are occurring which undermine the licensing objectives.

Caution for Members of the Public

Those making representation regarding an application under the Licensing Act 2003 should note that all relevant representations received may become public documents and could be published in their entirety in the report that accompanies an application.

It is an offence to knowingly or recklessly make a false statement in connection with an application and the maximum fine for which a person is liable on summary conviction for the offence is £5,000.

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Appealing against Licensing Authority decisions

For those that have made a relevant representation, accepted as such by the Licensing Authority, there is a right of appeal to the magistrates court if they feel that the decision made by the Licensing Authority at hearing is unjust.

For Southwick, Shoreham and Lancing the licensing authority is Adur District Council and for the Borough of Worthing this is Worthing Borough Council.

Under Section 181 and Schedule 5 of the Act, there is a right of appeal to the Magistrates' Court in respect of applications for new licences and variations of an existing licence open, not only to the applicant but, to any person who has made relevant representation.

Such a person may appeal against:

  • a licence being granted,
  • a variation being granted, 
  • or against the modification or lack of modification of any conditions.

The Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) has issued guidance regarding appeals against Licensing Authority decisions:

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