Renewal Of Sex Entertainment Venue Licence

February 12th, 2014 by James Goudie KC

In R (Thompson) v Oxford City Council (2014) EWCA Civ 94 the Court of Appeal was concerned with a decision whether or not to grant or renew a lap dancing club’s licence under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982, as amended (“the 1982 Act”), a licence which has a maximum term of 12 months.  Lloyd Jones LJ observed (para 25) that the statutory scheme “gives a wide discretion to licensing authorities, in particular in forming value judgments as to whether the grant or renewal of a licence would be appropriate having regard to the character of the locality”.

It was held (para 34) that while it was open to the Sub-Committee to depart from the decision of its predecessor, “it was under a duty to take account of the earlier decision, to grasp the nettle of any disagreement with the earlier decision and to state its reasons for coming to a different conclusion”.  Lloyd Jones LJ summarised the position thus:

(1) On an application to renew an SEV licence it is not necessary for an objector to demonstrate that something has changed since the decision granting the licence. Were the position otherwise, the efficacy of annual reconsideration would be much reduced.

(2) However, the decision maker has to have due regard to the fact that a licence was previously granted.

(3) If there is no relevant change of circumstances, the decision maker has to give his reasons for departing from the earlier decision.

The authority was permitted to have regard to an imminent development, even if there was no certainty that it would be completed and operational within the licence period (para 49).  However, it was not open to the authority to rely on a development plan which contemplated development five years into the future (para 50).

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