Licensing Committee

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Licensing Committee

 

 

The determination of applications for licenses in relation to alcohol sale, gambling and entertainment.

The licensing committee comprises councillors and their standing deputies who are responsible for the City Council's licensing function.

The committee has the full delegated authority of the council to determine policy matters, fee structures, contested applications and disciplinary cases against licence holders. This means the committee's decisions are the council's decisions - they do not need to be endorsed or agreed by other committees.

This is important as it allows the committee to hear and determine licensing matters quickly, and means there will be no confusion over the validity of any decision made.

When considering applications the committee is required to act as a 'quasi-judicial' body. There are certain fundamental rules of administrative law that govern how the committee works:

Natural Justice - The committee will actively encourage hearings in person and allow applicants, objectors and other interested parties to make representations. Applicants or licence holders may be accompanied and represented by a legal adviser or some other person, such as a friend. The committee's procedures will reflect the standards "that any reasonable person would expect to see applied". All committee members will receive copies of all documents and other submissions to be considered and will hear all the arguments before reaching a conclusion.

Exercise of discretion - Many statutes allow decisions of the committee to be made using a wide discretion. This must be a real exercise of discretion and based on what the law says we can consider in any one subject - not, for example, to make licensing decisions based on political or moral grounds. Equally, on matters of policy, the Committee must be prepared to adopt a flexible attitude and, on occasion, may consider applications that do not comply with policy considerations for individual licensing matters.

Bias and fairness - Committee members are bound by standing orders and national codes of conduct. Members must not prejudge or show bias in any matter and must declare pecuniary interests at the start of every committee meeting. The committee comprises experienced councillors who, where possible, do not have interests in licensing matters which are likely to debar them from consideration of, or voting on, any particular issue.

Members will normally make their decision in private. Only the legal adviser and committee administrator will remain in the room. The chair will announce the committee's decision, and may give brief reasons for reaching that decision.

The licensing officer will communicate the decision in writing - in all cases, reasons for reaching a decision will be given.

 

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