A Tale of Two Off-Licences. Is cheaper better value?
Richard Taylor, 4th September, 2020
Richard Taylor provides food for thought to those operators looking for support with their applications.
I was recently instructed by the operators of two convenience stores who wanted off licences for their premises. The instructions were remarkably similar. They were received within a week of each other, the premises were close to each other, both were in the same cumulative impact area (which means that the starting point for consideration of an application that has received representations/objections is that the application will be refused) and both wanted the same hours.
Having received the instructions and advised on the local requirements of the police, I submitted the applications. Both soon received representations from the police meaning that the applications would proceed to a hearing before the licensing sub committee of the council.
The last date for representations passed and both applications received hearing dates.
That’s where the similarities end. In these circumstances, applicants can deal with the hearings without legal representation – either deal on their own or with assistance from a friend or licensing agent or pay for qualified legal representation.
One operator instructed me to provide representation at the hearing. The other went on the internet and found a licensing agent whose fees for representation were lower. I was told my services were no longer required and that the cheaper licensing agent would provide representation at the hearing.
You can probably guess that one was granted and the other wasn’t. You’d be right except one was granted without the need for a hearing whereas the other went to hearing and was refused.
The police contacted me about both applications after the hearings had been fixed. I had to tell them that one applicant had dispensed with my services and I gave the police their contact details. As far as my application was concerned, we were able to agree matters with the police and the application was granted without a hearing. I understand that the police contacted the licensing agent for my former client, there was no agreement, the hearing went ahead and the application was refused.
Did my former client whose application was refused receive value for money? He knew the cost, but not the value.
Anyone can set up as a licensing agent, no qualifications are necessary. Many are former council or police officers who operate in a particular area. At Gosschalks, we have a vastly experienced team that has built up strong working relationships throughout the country with local authorities, licensing officers and other responsible authorities. We've literally seen and done it all and have been sucessfully advising clients from the largest supermarkets chains in the UK to individual shop owners for over 40 years. Throughout that time, our solicitors have made applications in and appeared before every council in the UK.
Need help with your licensing? Get in touch today...
Contact the author, Richard Taylor for a free discussion about your needs. Richard is the head of our nationally renowend Licensing team. One of the most experienced Licensing lawyers in the country, Richard has dealt with everything imaginable throughout his career and counts major supermarket chains, national retailers, hotel operators, cinema operators, betting companies and pub companies amongst his long-term clients.