Mu Mu Enterprises v North Somerset District Council

Area of law:

12 March 2015

Roy successfully acted on behalf of the Appellant in the matter of Mu Mu Enterprises v North Somerset District Council (2013) concerning proper notice for review proceedings under the Licensing Act 2003.

Roy Light, member of our licensing team successfully acted on behalf of the Appellant in the matter of Mu Mu Enterprises v North Somerset District Council (2013) concerning proper notice for review proceedings under the Licensing Act 2003.

Generally applications under the Licensing Act 2003 must be advertised by way of notification posted on the premises as well as local newspapers circulating in the area. Regulations made under the Act also require the local authority to advertise applications on their website. Originally only applicable to reviews, the Licensing Act 2003 (Premises Licences and Club Premises Certificates) (Amendment) Regulations 2012 extend the requirement to new and variation applications.

In Mu Mu Enterprises the Local Authority’s sub-committee carried out a review hearing despite failing to advertise the application on its website. The sub-committee, acting on the basis that it was promoting the licensing objectives, dismissed the Appellant’s argument that the review could not proceed. On appeal the Local Authority acknowledged that the application should have been advertised on its website citing clerical error for it not being advertised. However they argued that the application had been advertised by notice on the premises and reported in a local newspaper deeming this as sufficient notice and sought to rely on R v Secretary of State for the Home Department ex p. Jeyeanthan CA 1999.

The Appellant distinguished the Local Authority’s argument in Jeyeanthan and quoted from Corporation of the Hall of Arts and Sciences v Albert Court Residents’ Association & others v Westminster City Council [2011] EWCA Civ 430:

When exercising any discretion or power of decision under the Act, a licensing authority must do so “with a view to promoting the licensing objectives” as there defined. However, once the authority is under an unqualified duty to carry out an act specified by statute there is no room for section 4 to apply. The authority simply has no choice but to perform its statutory duty’ (para.37)

Further, Matthew Taylor v Manchester City Council & TCG Bars Limited [2012] EWCH 3467 (Admin) 30 considered the statutory procedural requirements under the Act and the judgment notes:

Subject to the express requirements of the Hearing Regulations, procedure at the hearing of an application is expressly a matter for the licensing authority (regulation 21 of the Hearing Regulations). There is no similar provision in the Premises Regulations, which are generally prescriptive as to the pre-hearing procedure that must be followed by the applicant …and the licensing authority’ (para.20 and again at para.83).

The Court in Mu Mu, allowed the appeal, declared the review proceedings void and made a costs order against the Respondent authority. As the requirement to advertise on the authority’s website has been extended it would be wise for licensing authorities and practitioners to check that applications appears on the authority’s website for ‘28 consecutive days starting on the day after the day on which the application was given to the relevant licensing authority’ – otherwise they may face the prospect that their applications will be declared invalid.