The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletins

Sent Saturday 25th June 2005

Subject: Court Victory For Pub Trade


The outcome of a judicial review of the new Licensing Act could have important implications for live music in bars and restaurants.

The review was initiated in April by the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), the British Institute of Innkeepers (BII) and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR). They are challenging key elements of Canterbury City Council's licensing policy. A judgment is expected in the next two weeks, although it could in theory be delayed until 29 July.

It is believed that the council's position is that it is entitled to require certain conditions on licences which reflect provisions in existing legislation, such as capacity limits. This is disputed by the BBPA, BII and ALMR. They argue that Canterbury's policy exceeds the requirements of the Act in that such conditions unlawfully duplicate provision under separate legislation, such as health and safety legislation. The Statutory Guidance that accompanies the Act explicitly warns against this.

If the judicial review goes in favour of the licensed trade, this could force all local authorities to rethink their licensing policy.

Paradoxically, it might also lead to a fairer and more consistent application of health and safety legislation. Just like the Act it replaces, the Licensing Act 2003 makes arbitrary distinctions between entertainment that requires licensing (live music as a featured entertainment, for example) and entertainment that is exempt (such as big screen sport broadcasts). Both entertainments may present safety risks. But, if local authorities continue to rely heavily on licensing as the means to implement safety legislation clearly this favours exempt entertainments, even where these present greater safety risks than live music.

See the recent coverage in The Publican: