IoL protocol for licence applications & remote hearings during COVID-19 pandemic

The Institute of Licensing has published a Protocol designed to assist licensing authorities in complying with their obligations and duties under the Licensing Act 2003 during this emergency period.

The Protocol takes account of provisions within The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 made under section 78 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 and published yesterday (2 April 2020). These Regulations:

  • come into force on 4 April 2020, but are  time limited, applying only to meetings taking place before 7 May 2021. The government has confirmed that, if social distancing rules are relaxed or removed before this date, it could introduce secondary legislation to repeal these regulations;
  • make provision to enable local authorities to hold meetings (including those of licensing committees and sub-committees) remotely including by way of, but not limited to, telephone conferencing, video conferencing, live webcast, and live interactive streaming; and
  • modify existing legislative provisions to remove the requirement for local authorities to hold annual meetings, and to enable requirements for public and press access to local authority meetings and associated documents to be complied with through remote means and website access.

The IoL states on its website that its Protocol (that can be downloaded below):

  • covers applications involving alcohol, entertainment and late night refreshment
  • takes into account the closure of premises (including most licensed premises), restrictions on freedom of movement and social distancing requirements
  • recognises the challenges facing both industry and regulators, and
  • promotes the continuation of the licensing system using alternative means of processing applications, encouraging compromise, and conducting hearings using remote technology.

Commenting on the Protocol, IoL Chairman Daniel Davies has said:

The current pandemic and necessary restrictions on business and individuals have had an enormous impact in all areas.  In particular, licensed businesses face an existential threat and must be able to innovate and look at new ways to conduct business.  At the same time, the licensing objectives within the Licensing Act 2003 must be promoted and safeguarded. Local authorities also face very significant challenges in keeping the licensing system going. It is essential that the licensing system continues to work, and works well.  The Institute of Licensing’s Protocol is designed to inform and assist licensing authorities and operators in managing, and using, the licensing system effectively and fairly during these extraordinary times.

UPDATES:

  1. The IoL Protocol was updated on 8 April 2020, in order to incorporate the advice to Licensing Authorities set out in a Ministerial letter of that same date from Kit Malthouse MP, Minister of State for Crime and Policing, to Chairs of Licensing Committees dated 8 April 2020, recognising the difficulties faced by regulators and businesses and urging a collaborative and pragmatic approach to minimise damage to both businesses and the licensing objectives.
  2. The IoL was further updated on 20 April 2020 to:
    • update the section on fees and the late night levy and
    • include an Annex 1 on the “Mechanics & Procedures of Remote Video-Hearings”.

We have accordingly updated:

  • the above link to take readers direct to the most recently updated Protocol and
  • the version of the Protocol that you can download below.