Select Committee on Deregulation and Regulatory Reform First Report

Appendix 6

Letter from the Chief Executive, Justices' Clerks' Society, England and Wales to the Clerk of the Deregulation and Regulatory Reform Committee (dated 6 September 2001)

Proposal for the Regulatory Reform (Special Occasions Licensing) Order 2001

With reference to your letter of 19 July 2001, the Society shares your concern over the lateness of the timescale for the regulatory reform for New Years Eve. It is regrettable that there will be insufficient time for this order to take full effect.

The Society has acted in conjunction with the Magistrates Association in drafting a press statement suggesting that in order to fill the gap created by the delay in this order, Courts should routinely follow the Good Practice Guide in granting Special Orders of Exemption for New Years Eve to 12.30am.

A liberal approach has been encouraged, however, where applicants apply for longer hours given that it was the Governments intention to have lengthy licensing hours.

Many licensees have to date not applied for New Year extensions believing that the matter was going to be resolved by Government. A clear statement is needed very quickly as to whether it is still intended to put this reform measure through the Parliamentary process. If it is, then licensees need not apply for Special Orders of Exemption, but if not, they need to prepare.

The Society's concern also turns on the inability of anyone then to apply for a Restriction Order as timescales would not be sufficient. It may be, therefore, better to announce that because of difficulties with Parliamentary delays, that the deregulation order for New Years Eve will not proceed.

It can then be left for individual Licensing Justices to consider applications for Special Orders of Exemption, and to apply their own local knowledge as to whether there is likely to be disturbance caused by the extended hours.

The Society's and Magistrates Association guidance would then ensure some uniformity across the country, and efforts could be made to ensure that the necessary regulatory reform is in place for the next New Years Eve. It would surely be better to announce this delay rather than hurriedly introducing legislation, which includes a power of a restriction order, which in effect would be meaningless.

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Prepared 8 November 2001