Reply from the Home Office to the Clerk|
Thank you for your letter of 18 February about the
proposed Deregulation (Sunday Dancing and Licensing) Order 2000.
You indicated that the Chairman would like to know
(a) whether there is any equivalent law in England and Wales which
provides for the making of bye-laws by the licensing authority
to control noise after 11 pm on any day; and (b) whether licensing
law permitted competent objectors to oppose the grant of a special
(a) powers to control noise and disturbance
Licensing authorities do not have the power to make
byelaws in the context of liquor and public entertainment licensing
laws. The position in England and Wales is that the licensing
authorities control noise and disturbance by imposing conditions
through other means than the use of byelaws.
Under the law of England and Wales, it is open to
the local authority to prescribe any terms, conditions or restrictions
on the grant or renewal of a public entertainment licence.
To qualify for a special hours certificate, premises licensed
to sell and supply alcohol must already have a public entertainment
licence which is renewable every twelve months or less. The local
authority's discretion to impose terms, conditions and restrictions
is unfettered. In practice, local authorities exercise their discretion
to impose robust conditions for the purposes of preventing crime
and disorder, assuring public safety and preventing public nuisance
and disturbance. So, for example, it is common to find conditions
attached to a public entertainment licence that require the premises
to have adequate levels of soundproofing. It is a criminal offence
to breach such a condition and conviction could lead to revocation
of the licence (at which point, the special hours certificate
would become invalid too). On conviction for such an offence,
the court may impose a fine of up to £20,000 or up to six
months imprisonment or both.
(b) the ability of competent objectors to oppose
the grant or renewal of a special hours certificate
The Licensing (Special Hours Certificates) Rules
(S.I. 1982 No. 1384), made under Section 91 of the Licensing
Act 1964, govern the arrangements for grant and revocation of
special hours certificates. Rule 3(1) - (1A) provides for the
display and advertising of the application to people residing
in the locality. Rule 3A provides for any person to lay grounds
objecting to the grant of a new certificate or any variation of
an existing one. Any person would naturally include any person
or persons representing those bodies and groups specified in the
Scottish legislation. The Licensing Act 1964 is silent as to what
matters might properly be taken into account when considering
the grant of or imposition of limitations on the certificate.
The discretion of the licensing justices to consider and to take
account of these objections is therefore again essentially unfettered.
In considering the exercise of this discretion, the higher courts
have provided guidance in the form of case-law and precedent.
This has consistently confirmed that it is entirely proper for
the licensing justices to take into account the risk of public
disorder, or disturbance of or annoyance to residents in the neighbourhood
of the premises.
The Government therefore considers that the existing
powers available to the local authority in respect of the public
entertainment licence, and to the licensing justices in respect
of the on-licence and special hours certificate, provide comprehensively
for the protection of local residents like those in the Royal
Borough of Kensington and Chelsea from undue noise, disturbance
and annoyance. The process is also accessible and receptive to
local residents who wish to raise objections to the grant of a
certificate. The Government is proposing adding to these existing
protections by requiring the licensing justices to take account
of the "special nature of Sunday".
If any further clarification would be helpful, we
should be happy to provide it.
29 February 2000
27 See paragraph 9(1) of Schedule 12 to the London
Government Act 1963 and paragraph 11(1) of Schedule 1 to the Local
Govt (Misc. Provisions) Act 1982. Back
As amended by the Licensing (Special Hours Certificates) (Amendment)
Rules 1988, S.I. 1988 No. 1338 and the Licensing (Special Hours
Certificates) (Amendment) Rules 1996, S.I. 1996 No. 978. Back
See, for example, Lidster v Owen  1 All ER 1012, 
1 WLR 516. Back