Licence - Reduction of terminal hours - Local authority reducing claimant company’s hours of permitted licensable activities

R (on the application of Festiva Ltd) v Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court: QBD (Admin) (Timothy Straker QC sitting as a deputy judge of the High Court): 4 November 2011

The interested party, the local authority, was the licensing authority pursuant to the Licensing Act 2003.

The authority reduced the claimant company’s hours of permitted licensable activities at premises in Islington. The magistrates’ court dismissed the claimant’s appeal against that decision. Subsequently, a judge granted the claimant leave to appeal against the justices’ decision. The parties subsequently agreed the terms of a draft consent order (the order). The order recorded the claimant’s undertaking not to issue and not to cause or permit the issue of temporary event notices so as to authorise licensable activities, on any day, later than 2am at the premises (the undertaking).

The order further provided that: (i) the justices’ decision should be quashed as there were clearly identifiable bases for challenging the decision; and (ii) the authority should issue a premises licence modifying the conditions attached to the extant premises licence in accordance with the schedule. The schedule provided for a series of terminal hours on the various days of the week.

It fell to be determined how the matter should proceed in the light of the order agreed to by the parties. Consideration was given to Civil Procedure Rule 54(19). The application would be granted.

The general principle was that the court might, pursuant to CPR 54(19), remit the matter to the decision-maker, and direct it to reconsider the matter and reach a decision in accordance with the judgment of the court. Or, in so far as any enactment permitted, substitute the court’s own decision for the decision to which the claim related. However, no enactment permitted the court to substitute its own decision in connection with the particular licence which should be imposed in respect of these premises or how that licence should be conditioned (see [8] of the judgment).

In the instant case, in the light of the agreement which was reached, and the good sense which was applied to reaching that agreement in relation to the matters at issue, the licence should be modified so as to secure the terminal hours for the provision of licensable activities in accordance with the schedule. In the meantime, the undertaking proffered by the claimant would be accepted. That undertaking to end after the justices had made their decision in connection with the matter (see [13], [14], [15]).

In the circumstances, the justices would be directed to reconsider the matter by making a quashing order, which therefore sends the matter back to their court to reconsider the matter and reach a decision in accordance with the court’s judgment (see [12]).

Stephen Walsh QC (instructed by Popplestone Allen Solicitors) for the claimant; Philip Kolvin QC (instructed by Islington Borough Council) for the defendant.