Local Judicial Approach to recent Licensing Court of Appeal Authority
In January 2011 the Court of Appeal considered the approach a Magistrates’ Court should adopt when adjudicating upon an appeal against the decision of a Local Authority in relation to a premises licence.
Regina (Hope and Glory Public House Ltd) v City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court  EWCA Civ 31 came before the Court of Appeal, the Appellant having been granted permission to challenge the decision of the High Court at the conclusion of Judicial Review proceedings.
The primary issue in the appeal concerned the approach of a District Judge sitting in the Magistrates’ Court and the procedure to be adopted when adjudicating upon an appeal pursuant to Section 181 and Schedule 5 of the Licensing Act 2003 against the decision of a Local Authority considering a premises licence.
Concluding that the appeal should be dismissed, the Court held that although an appeal from the decision of a Licensing Authority to a Magistrates’ Court was a full rehearing of the evidence, and the Court had to make its decision on the material before it; the Licensing Authority’s decision was a relevant matter to be taken into consideration and should only be reversed if the Magistrates’ Court was satisfied that the original decision was wrong.
In February 2012, Carys Williams was instructed to represent a Local Authority in such an appeal against the refusal of the Local Authority to grant a premises licence. The appeal was heard before a District Judge sitting in the Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court.
During the course of the re-hearing further evidence in support of the application for a premises licence was adduced. In submissions it was emphasised that the District Judge must only consider what was before the Local Authority’s licensing committee when they made their decision. In light of Regina (Hope and Glory Public House Ltd) v City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court  EWCA Civ 3, he could only allow the appeal if the Local Authority’s decision had been wrong.
The District Judge refused the appeal stating in his reasons that with some reluctance he was unable to interfere with the decision made by the Local Authority. This was on the basis that the evidence before the licensing committee who made the original decision was such, that the District Judge could not be satisfied their decision was wrong.