Personal Licences – suspensions and forfeitures
22nd March, 2017
Personal Licences replaced what was known under the previous legislation as the "fit and proper test".
Although Personal Licences no longer need to be renewed, there has always been a provision in the Licensing Act 2003 for them to be suspended or forfeited by the courts if the holder is convicted of relevant offences.
What happens in these cases?
When a Personal Licence holder is convicted by a Court of an offence described by the Act, the Court has a duty to notify the relevant Licensing Authority that it has, as part of the sentence, suspended or revoked the Defendant’s licence.
The above process, however, relies on a Defendant telling the Court that they have a Personal Licence.
It is not uncommon for Defendants to fail to do this either because they are unaware of their obligation to disclose this fact, don’t think it’s important or choose to deliberately not be forthright and because the offence for which they might be before the Court could have nothing to do with the Defendant’s employment and the licence to trade, cases often proceed without a Personal Licence being mentioned. This is despite the 2003 Act creating a separate offence of failing to tell the Court.
Also, even if the Court is aware that the Defendant has a Personal Licence and it chooses to suspend or revoke it, the Licensing Authority might never hear of it and record the licence as current.
The Act imposes a duty on the Court to notify the Licensing Authority so that its records can be amended accordingly. However, Court staff might not be aware of this obligation and the consequence again would be that a Personal Licence remains unharmed despite the Court’s decision.
How is this changing?
The recently enacted Policing and Crime Act 2017 seeks to deal with the problem that the current system exposes.
If, at any time, the Licensing Authority becomes aware that a Personal Licence Holder has been convicted of a relevant offence it may suspend the licence for a period not exceeding six months or revoke it. The Licensing Authority now is not obliged to rely on a Court to undertake this exercise.
If, however, the Licensing Authority is considering suspension or revocation, it must notify the licence holder. They can then make representations which must be taken into account by the authority before any decision is made.
If, having received representations, it proposes not to revoke the licence it must then give notice to the Police and invite them to comment. The final decision can only be made after consideration of the Police’s view.
How can Ward Hadaway help?
We have extensive experience of advising on the personal licensing system and matters relating to it.
For further information on how we can assist on this or on any other aspect of the licensing regime, please get in touch.
Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.
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