Presentation 1 – Fire safety – Post Grenfell  

Presentation 2 – Entertainment / Alcohol Licensing – What’s new?

Presentation 3 – Coroner’s inquests – what’s in it for me?

Presentation 4 – Sentencing and what does it really mean?

Presentation 5 – Regulatory smorgasbord  – topical round up of cases, developments and issues to watch out for

Presentation 6 –  Insurers – what can they make you and what can they not make you do?!

Woods Whur’s Regulatory Team would like to invite you to its latest regulatory seminar on 25 September 2019 from 9:00am until 12 noon at Gateshead College’s impressive seminar space.

Woods Whur’s niche specialist regulatory lawyers will be delivering a topical round up on a variety of regulatory matters from food, fire, health & safety to environmental, coronial law and entertainment licensing. We do hope that you can join us for what promises to be a useful series of presentations on the ever changing world of regulatory compliance, investigation and enforcement.

The speakers will be James Thompson, the Head of Regulatory Department, who has over 20 years’ experience acting for clients, subject to regulatory investigation and prosecution.  He also has many years’ experience from the police service.  James also sits as a Coroner for County Durham.

Along with James, Andy Woods will also be speaking. Andy is a nationally acknowledged expert in licensing & gaming law will be speaking on topical issues affecting those operating in that sector. Andy has specialised in licensing for over 25 years and has higher rights of audience which allows him to represent his clients in all UK courts concerned with any proceedings. Andy has received commendations for his skill in running large projects in the betting and gaming sector. He acts for international, national and individual operators concerned with both alcohol and gambling licensing.

Sarah Frow from within the Regulatory team will also be speaking alongside James and Andy. Sarah is a regulatory and licensing lawyer and assists business clients facing investigations and prosecutions by the police, the Health and Safety Executive, the Care Quality Commission, the Gambling Commission, Food Standards Agency and other regulatory bodies. As well as criminal proceedings, Sarah advises clients regarding inquests and public inquiries.

If you can join us, please contact Sarah Griffiths, our Seminar Co-Ordinator, on sarah@woodswhur.co.uk who can confirm your place/places and send you joining instructions.

We look forward to seeing you on 25 September 2019.
Woods Whur

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have recently announced that they have increased the fee they charge to investigate and advise on health and safety matters. James and Sarah consider the implications of this.

 Fee For Intervention (FFI) was established by the HSE to recover some of the costs incurred by them in identifying breaches by persons or organisations (‘dutyholders’) and assisting in putting them right.

Previously, the FFI hourly rate was £129 which has now been increased to £154, a 19% increase. The increase came into force from 6 April 2019.

Under this scheme, the HSE will recover costs from non-compliant dutyholders when a breach has been identified and needs to be rectified.

The scheme previously saw a slight increase in 2016 from £124 per hour to £129, however, we now see a much higher increase as a result of, according to the HSE, inflation and recovering its costs in completing this regulatory function. The reality is the HSE are now seeing the revenue from FFI as a means to bolster its reduced budget.

It’s worth reviewing ‘when an inspector calls’, a leaflet that can be found on the HSE website, http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hsc14.pdf, to ensure everything is in order to prevent the service of a FFI notice. Otherwise it can be an expensive visit!

Whilst to charge you a FFI a material breach has to be discovered, the reality is an inspector can, and often does, find some issues when inspecting premises or activities. The bill you ultimately can be facing may be very costly, running into the thousands.

There is a challenge/appeal procedure but as is often the case prevention is better than cure!

James and Sarah consider two recent Court of Appeal Hearings and its significance following National Asbestos Awareness Week.

 

Two recent Appeal court hearings have reduced the fines imposed on the defendants for different reasons. Would you benefit from the courts stance?

 

In the first case, a company, London NPS, argued that they should have been treated as a small organisation rather than a large organisation under the Sentencing Guidelines. This would have a direct effect on the fine imposed on them. The Sentencing Guidelines are used by the courts to determine the suitable sentence passed on a defendant. The Court of Appeal ruled in the Appellant’s favour on the basis that each incorporated company is a separate legal entity. This is significant and useful to know when an organisation is operating in a group structure. It shows that the courts will treat the offender as the company that was guilty of the act. The fine was reduced from £370,000 to £50,000 as a result of this. This is not just applicable to asbestos matters, but also health and safety matters as the same considerations apply to company sizes. Smaller companies with larger groups of companies may be protected from paying for subsidiary company’s mistakes.

The second appeal concerned the court’s determination of the level of the “likelihood of harm” in a case appealed by the Squibb Group, again this relates to the Sentencing Guidelines. The court criticised the Judge that sentenced the matter for failing to explain why he had disregarded scientific evidence submitted at the trial by the defendant. The court commented that long term risks of this nature are inheritably difficult to assess and quantify and any estimate must be subject to a wide margin of error. The court went on to say that this is not a reason to reject or disregard whatever scientific evidence is available and a rational approach for a Court to adopt these circumstances is to rely on the best evidence that it has. The court reduced the fine from the likelihood of harm from medium to low and reduced the original £400,000 fine to £190,000. The guidelines set out the seriousness of the offence by considering a number of factors, including harm. The significance of this case is relevant for any business that has had work done and/or obtained reports in respect of asbestos, or indeed other issues, as these assist in cases such as this. As with most things, preparation is the key here and by keeping reports and other documents they could assist many years in the future.

Although asbestos was banned in 1999, it is still present in at least half a million buildings constructed before this time. It is important that companies are aware of their responsibility to manage exposure to asbestos whether it’s by creating an asbestos survey, regularly reviewing any work that is done to a property, and sharing information with those affected by their use/role in the building.

If you are concerned or not sure whether you are responsible for managing asbestos exposure and to what extent in relation to your legal obligations then please contact James or Sarah to discuss.

B&Q have pleaded guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act following an incident at their Kidderminster store which resulted in a pole from a promotional display falling on a customer, causing serious head injuries.

The court fined B&Q £300,000 and ordered it to pay costs of £8,000.  The court heard that B&Q had failed to examine the display as part of daily checks at the store, which would have shown that retainer clips had not been fitted, which meant the signage was not secured.

It’s clear from this case the importance of checking your premises regularly, particularly those temporary structures that may be marketing/advertising displays.

Although the fine appears large enough, B&Q managed to reduce the potential fine by quickly taking action following the accident; this included removing all of the display banner poles to ensure that a similar incident would not occur. In addition it pleaded guilty to the offences which allowed a reduction in the overall fine handed down by the court by up to a third. If not for these prompt actions the fine would have been much higher.

The lesson from this case is any change within a business should be assessed for risks by way of risk assessment and regularly reviewed. Temporary changes to your premises or operations which last for one day or for a couple of weeks still need the same level of scrutiny as long established fixtures and processes. Whilst in this case the source of the accident was an incorrectly constructed advertising display, how many short term measures do you introduce to your business each year and how carefully do you check their health and safety impact of doing so?

James and Sarah consider the Sentencing Council’s report published this month into the Health and Safety sentencing.

The sentencing guidelines are used in courts to promote greater consistency in sentencing for health and safety offences. The guidelines came into force in February 2016. The Sentencing Council have now prepared a report into the effectiveness of the guidelines.

As anticipated, fines have increased overall for organisations after the guidelines came into force. In particular, fines have seen a considerable increase for larger organisations, those that have an annual turnover of £50 million and over. The report states that in the 10 months prior to the sentencing guidelines being in place, the median fine amount was £12,000. In the 10 months after the sentencing guidelines were published, the median fine amount increased to £60,000. That’s an increase of 400%! Fine amounts increased for all sizes of organisations, although the Sentencing Council have commented that they did not anticipate fines to rise for individuals – they have!

Mitigating and aggravating factors in the context of sentencing are those circumstances which may reduce(mitigating) or increase (aggravating) the sentence accordingly. Interestingly, the report states that mitigating factors were cited much more frequently than aggravating factors (90 percent of cases compared with 50 percent, respectively). On average, around two mitigating factors were cited in the report considered. This contrasts with aggravating factors where, on average, less than one aggravating factor was cited in each case. The most common aggravating factors cited were ‘previous convictions’ and ‘cost-cutting at the expense of safety’. We cannot stress the robust stance courts take when ‘cost cutting’ is demonstrated as a factor in the offence.

So what should we take from this? Clearly fines are increasing. The most stark difference is that of fines given to any organisation regardless of size are now routinely significant and in some cases terminal for the viability of that business.

The likes of Poundstretcher, Tata Steel, Tesco, and Stagecoach have all been handed fines of £1 million or more after breaching health and safety law in the last year. The £1 million fine is becoming the new ‘norm’ in the health and safety arena.

We would like to pass on our thanks to Simon Thomas for letting us use the auditorium in the Hippodrome Casino and also to our external speakers, Philip Kolvin QC, Ben Haden from the Gambling Commission and Kerry Simpkin from Westminster Council.

We had a fantastic mixed audience from all parts of the gambling industry – online, traditional land based betting and casino operators, bingo operators, the Lotteries sector – a broad spectrum of clients and also representatives of a number of licensing authorities.

Philip Kolvin opened up our conference and gave a fantastic presentation on risk.  A significant number of delegates commented during the break how thought-provoking this was. Philip was followed by Andy who dealt with review of recent cases and issues. There are some significant cases of note in Gambling Law as the Regulator has definitely sharpened its focus of dealing with problem operators.

James Thompson, the Head of our Regulatory team then looked at the significant issues of the sentencing guidelines changing on prosecutions for regulatory breaches, and also some very topical issues in relation to data protection and the changes in legislation. Big thanks to James who had to leave home in Newcastle at 3.30 in the morning so as to get to London to deliver his presentation.

Anna Mathias gave the audience her lotteries update which came with perfect timing, as she has just been appointed to the Board of the Lotteries Commission for Great Britain.  The lotteries operators in the audience found her update particularly interesting and pertinent to their sector.  We are very proud that she now sits on the Board of such an important and worthwhile organisation.

In the second half of the conference we had Ben Haden from the Gambling Commission who gave a very interesting insight into the national policy being promoted by the Gambling Commission in 2018. Some interesting changes of focus can be seen in his presentation as the direction of travel for the GC starts to change.

After Ben gave us the national picture, Kerry Simpkin highlighted the Gambling perspective from Westminster Council, explaining what their Licensing Authority expects to see in terms of risk assessment and how their new statement of licensing policy is going from 60 to 353 pages.

Andy and Anna brought the conference to a close with a compliance, regulation and challenges presentation.  This gave the audience a good understanding of some of the regulatory impacts that are challenging  and will further challenge the gambling sector.

We thoroughly enjoyed the day and in particular, the questions and issues raised by delegates in my wrap up session.

If you would like a copy of any of the materials used at the conference, please email sarah@woodswhur.co.uk, who will be happy to assist.

If there are any questions from those who attended the seminar or those who unfortunately could not attend, then Andy, Anna, James and myself would be delighted to deal with those direct enquiries.

Paddy Whur

As readers will recall from my previous articles, the Government has knocked back most of the changes which were recommended after the House of Lords’ review of the Licensing Act 2003.  However, the Government did suggest that a number of changes could be introduced via the section 182 Guidance which now seems to be reviewed annually by the Home Office. On close reading of the new Guidance, only a small number of the proposed changes has been incorporated in this revision, but they are important changes, nonetheless.

The first change in the revised section 182 Guidance document is that the Regulators’ Code under the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 is included as a document for all parties to give consideration to.

The first new section in the guidance is at paragraph 8.3.8 – 8.40, headed “Entitlement to work in the UK”.  Three additional paragraphs have been added to the Guidance document, which give clear advice as to the evidence that needs to be adduced to satisfy Licensing Authorities that individuals applying for premises licences for the sale of alcohol or late night refreshment are entitled to work in the UK.

One area where we have had inconsistency across the country is what needs to happen with outdoor areas when applying for a new premises licence. Hopefully the new additional paragraphs below will now remove this inconsistency.

Beer gardens or other outdoor spaces

8.35 Applicants will want to consider whether they might want to use a garden or other outdoor space as a location from which alcohol will be consumed. The sale of alcohol is to be treated as taking place where the alcohol is appropriated to the contract. In scenarios where drink orders are taken by a member of staff in the garden or outdoor space and the member of staff then collects the drinks from the licensed premises and returns to deliver them to the customer this would be treated as an off-sale and any conditions that relate to off-sales would apply.

8.36 In such cases it will be not necessary to include the garden or other outdoor space on the plan as part of the area covered by the premises licence. However, it will be necessary for the applicant to include the garden or other outdoor space on the plan as part of the area covered by the premises licence if the intention is to provide a service whereby drinks are available for sale and consumption directly from that area (i.e. the provision of on-sales). This would apply in the case of an outdoor bar or a service whereby a member of staff who is in the garden or outdoor space carries with them drinks that are available for sale (without the need for the staff member to return to the licensed premises to collect them).

8.37 If the beer garden or other outdoor area is to be used for the consumption of off-sales only, there is no requirement to show it on the plan of the premises, but the prescribed application form requires the applicant to provide a description of where the place is and its proximity to the premises.

The first really significant change is at paragraph 9.12 of the Guidance.  In the previous version of the Guidance, issued in April 2017, the Police had retained their position as having heightened status in making representations under the crime and disorder licensing objective.

The heading “representations from Police” has now been incorporated into the section “the role of responsible authorities”.  This new paragraph 9.12 has now been re-written to read as follows:

Each responsible authority will be an expert in their respective field, and in some cases, it is likely that a particular responsible authority will be the licensing authority’s main source of advice in relation to a particular licensing objective.  For example, the Police have a key role in managing the night time economy and should have good working relationships with those operating in their local area.  The Police should usually therefore be the licensing authority’s main source of advice on matters relating to the promotion of the crime and disorder licensing objective.  However, any responsible authority under the 2003 Act may make representations with regard to any of the licensing objectives, if they have evidence to support such representations.  The Licensing Authority must therefore consider all relevant representations from responsible authorities carefully, even where the reason for a particular responsible authority’s interest or expertise in the promotion of a particular objective may not be immediately apparent.  However, it remains incumbent on all responsible authorities to ensure that their representations can withstand the scrutiny to which they would be subject at a hearing”.

This marks a significant departure from the previous position, whereby only the Police were given a heightened status in relation to their representations.

It appears from the rewording of paragraph 9.12 that representations made by the Police have been downgraded from the heightened position that they enjoyed previously, and that now all responsible authority representations fall to be considered in a similar light.

The next additional paragraph in the document is at paragraph 13.11 in the appeals section to the guidance.  This states:

It is important that licensing authorities also provide all parties who were party to the original hearing, but not involved directly in the appeal, with clear reasons for any subsequent decisions where appeals are settled out of court.  Local residents in particular, who have attended a hearing where the decision was subject to an appeal, are likely to expect the final determination to be made by a court”.

It is my experience that there has been a distinct lack of voluntary compliance in this regard, and it is interesting that this has now been set out in the section 182 Guidance.

We have been involved in many cases where appeals have been settled without the original objecting residents being involved in the process.  In all of my appeals where I have represented the London Borough of Newham, we have always looked at any compromised position in an inclusive manner with residential objectors, to see whether they agree to the compromised position being resolved by a consent order, thus avoiding the need for court time of an effective appeal.

There has been a considerable redrafting of the section of the Guidance dealing with cumulative impact polices.  It is worth reading this whole new section.  In particular, paragraphs 14.24 to 14.28 have seen significant change.  Paragraph 14.34 of the new Guidance replaces paragraph 14.29 and is more prescriptive in the guidance given in relation to the steps to be taken in publishing a cumulative impact assessment.

A new section has been introduced, entitled “reviewing the CIA”.  Paragraphs 14.35 to 14.38 detail the steps that a Licensing Authority should take when reviewing the cumulative impact policy applying to a particular area.  A number of changes have also been highlighted within the section “effect of cumulative impact assessments”.  This replaces the section “effect of special policies”.  The two sets of paragraphs need to be read side by side in order to understand the Guidance properly.

We were promised changes after the House of Lords’ review and a careful assessment of the current section 182 Guidance is advisable before making any applications in cumulative impact policy areas.

So, all in all, there have been fairly modest changes to the latest iteration of the section 182 Guidance document.  Nonetheless, some of these changes do have an impact on the licensing process and are worthy of careful attention. To view the full revised Guidance click on the link below, and feel free to email me to help with any specific enquiries:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/702660/Revised_guidance_issued_under_section_182_of_the_Licensing_Act_2003__April_2018_.pdf

The Gambling Commission (“GC”), in its latest E-Bulletin, has reminded operators that they must ensure that their licence sits within the correct fee category.

Due to the timing of the coming into force of the Gambling Act 2005 and its associated transitional period, July every year sees the issuing of the bulk of annual fee demands. Your annual fee must be paid on or before the anniversary of the issuing of your operating licence.

Gambling operators are required to provide three years’ financial projections when they apply for an operating licence, and the application and annual fee are dictated by gross gambling yield (“GGY”). GGY is, broadly speaking, defined as the total amount received in stakes minus prizes paid out and estimating this, particularly in the case of a start-up, can be an art rather than a science – expectations may be exceeded, or not be met.

This means that your operating licence may be sitting in the wrong fee band and that you may be paying too much, or too little for your annual fee. I often am asked by clients as to what they should do, or would have to do, if this proves to be the case and I know that it does cause some anxiety.

The simple answer is that you must apply for an operating licence variation to either go up, or drop down, a fee category (or more).

There is some good news: the GC’s advice is that the variation process should be completed “as soon as possible” – this suggests to me that it will not penalise operators who have already inadvertently slipped into a higher fee category than originally envisaged, for example. Of course, those who may be aware that they are in the wrong category and have failed to disclose it to the GC, or who are deliberately under-declaring their GGY, are in breach of their duty under the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice to co-operate with the GC in an open and transparent manner and face a real prospect of enforcement action.

The other piece of good news is that the GC fee for altering your GGY band – whether up or down – is a fixed fee of only £25.

The application may be made via the eServices link on the GC website. Please contact me at anna@woodswhur.co.uk, should you require any assistance.

In this article, Andy Woods looks at the new version of the Licence Conditions and Codes of Practice (“LCCP”) and, in particular, highlights some of the key changes.

In many ways the LCCP should be the heartbeat of any gambling business and should form the basis of policies and procedures implemented by all gambling operators.  The Gambling Commission (“GC”) defines the LCCP as setting out “the requirements you must meet in order to hold your operating licence and your personal licence.  It is a very important part of running your business…”

It is a general requirement of the LCCP that all operators keep themselves up to date with any changes to legislation and to the LCCP and it is extremely important that operators understand that the LCCP is a changing document and updates and that amendments are made regularly, to take into account developments and innovations in the industry and to set out the most effective way of promoting the licensing objectives, in particular, promoting social responsible gambling.

The LCCP is not a “one size fits all” document, as there are sector specific sections and, if at all possible, the GC will make it clear what it expects operators to achieve in certain policies and procedures but allows them to write their own policies and procedures to deal with its requirements.  What is relevant to a Mayfair Casino dealing with high stake customers may not be relevant to an operator who only trades one betting shop.  However, the general principles that both will have to abide by remain the same.

The latest LCCP came into effect on 4 April 2018 and there are particular changes relating to Society Lotteries and the regulatory data that is to be provided to the Gambling Commission.  These were the two matters that the Gambling Commission consulted on in 2017.  There have also been minor changes to the social responsibility code provisions 3.5.3 and 3.5.4 and an update to the reference for the online portal for information at 15.3.1.

  1. The requirement to report the number of Suspicious Activity Reports (“SARs”) on regulatory returns has been removed and the information on discounted relationships will be collected through the key events reporting mechanism (via the eService Portal on the GC website). This change to the LCCP requires discounted relationships to be reported alongside information on SARs as key events.
  2. Information about game faults which result in over- or under-payment to customers needs to be reported as a key event.
  3. The existing requirement to report group advertising to a new jurisdiction has been widened to include a new requirement to report where there has been sustained/meaningful generation of the 3%/10% threshold being passed for the wider group.
  4. The definition of “low frequency lottery” has been updated to include those lotteries offered by local authorities.
  5. A new social responsibility code provision has been added to require operators to publish the proportion of lottery proceeds returned to the purposes of the society or local authority.

I am sure that some of the above points will come up at our seminar at The Hippodrome Casino on 8 May 2018.  There are still a few places available and if you would like to come please contact sarah@woodswhur.co.uk.

If you have any questions in the meantime on the above, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Since the introduction of the Immigration Act 2016 into the Licensing Act 2003, and the additional changes to the section 182 guidance document, the use of illegal workers in licensed premises has become a thorny issue.

We have now had considerable success in defending premises who have been caught with illegal workers. The first of these was the Red Lion Truck Stop on the M1 some 18 months ago.

More recently I was instructed earlier this year to look after the operator of two convenience stores near Braintree, both of which had the benefit of premises licences to sell alcohol. The premises licences had been reviewed in March 2017 and a different legal team represented the operator. Unfortunately they were revoked as a result of the review proceedings and the reasons for the revocation centred around the premises licence holder admitting that he had made mistakes in employing illegal workers at the premises.

The Sub-Committee, both prior to the hearing and during the hearing, had not received any documents to evidence that he had put new processes in place to prevent this from happening in the future. The licences were therefore revoked as they were not persuaded that robust procedures/systems had been or were about to be introduced to ensure that immigration and right to work checks would be carried out appropriately. They formed the view that the premises licence holder’s approach to compliance with legal requirements was at best limited, which in turn raised concerns about actions the premises licence holder may take in future to ensure promotion of the licensing objectives in respect of the prevention of crime and disorder.

I was instructed to take over representation of the premises licence holder’s interests shortly after the review proceedings had revoked the two premises licences.

We lodged a notice of appeal to the Magistrates’ Court, which of course stayed the decision to revoke and allowed the premises licence holder to continue trading.

During this period, we reached out to the Licensing Authority and asked if we could have a meeting to discuss where we were in regards to potential settlement of any appeal. Braintree District Council were amenable to meet me as I had not been instructed in the review proceedings. At this meeting I highlighted the deficiencies that I had seen in the preparation and delivery of the defence of the review proceedings and how I would be looking to change this for any appeal. Rather than going down the root of a full contested appeal hearing, I asked them whether in the light of the new evidence that I could produce they would be amenable to settling the appeal by way of the addition of conditions to the premises licence. Having considered their position, they felt that the members should make a decision rather than the officers and therefore the appeal at the Magistrates’ Court was settled with the appeals being remitted back to the Licensing Authority for a fresh determination.

We disclosed additional evidence on the Authority and Essex Police, having instructed People Force International to conduct an audit of the procedures in place for right to work checks for all of their staff at the two premises. We offered the Authority the following conditions to be attached to the premises licence:-

  1. The premises licence holder will operate a full HR management system where all relevant documents are stored for each individual member of staff.
  2. All copies of relevant documents for members of staff will be retained for a period of 24 months post termination of employment and will be made available to Police, Immigration or Licensing Officers on request.
  3. The premises licence holder will work with People Force International (or any other similar agency) to carry out checks on the Home Office website and verify identification documents such as right to work documents to ensure that all new members of staff can be legally employed.
  4. No new member of staff will be able to work at the premises unless they have provided satisfactory proof of identification and right to work.

Essex Police determined not to accept these conditions and attempted to rely on the case of East Lindsey District Council v Abu Hanif (t/a Zara’s Restaurant and Takeaway) [2016] EWHC 1265 (Admin).

We attended the remitted review hearings for the two premises licences before Braintree District Council Licensing Sub-Committee on the 28 November 2017. The Police were represented by Counsel and also brought a senior immigration officer in their request to maintain the revocation of the two licences.

I was delighted that I was able to persuade the Licensing Sub-Committee to allow for the reinstatement of the licences by way of the additional conditions being attached to the premises licences and by way of one further condition which was offered during the hearing in that an unannounced periodical audit would take place whereby a consultant would come in to check that all of the relevant documents were being maintained.

A critical point of difference between the two sets of review proceedings was the introduction of People Force International, who I have worked with successfully on a number of occasions. They provided an HR package after an audit and ensured that all of the correct right to work documents were retained for each members of staff. Some of these documents run out of time and therefore it is clearly critical that a forward diary entry is put in place to ensure that the continued right to work documents are available.

One of my arguments in the case, which the Licensing Sub-Committee accepted, was that the facts of the East Lindsey District Council case were significantly different to mine. In my case we had a member of staff who had proved to us his ability to be legally employed through right to work documents. These had lapsed but his wife was applying for full residency status in the UK and he had produced letters to my client from his then solicitors explaining that this gave him a right to continue his employment. It was a moot point whether this was the case but on a belt and braces approach we should have had up to date verification of his ability to work rather than relying on a letter from a firm of solicitors. Interestingly, my client did not receive a civil penalty for the employment of this person and by the time we got to this week’s hearing, his wife had won his appeal and he was legally in the UK. My client, believing that he was legally employable, had paid for him to go on the BII course to get his qualification to become a personal licence holder and was actually the Designated Premises Supervisor for both venues. He was on the payroll and was being paid net of tax with PAYE being fully complied with and the revenue receiving the correct amount. This was all audited and he was paid a good living wage. In addition, he was renting accommodation from my client. Certainly nothing was been hidden about his employment. The case of East Lindsey District Council was strikingly different in that the premises licence holder in that case had:

  • Employed the illegal worker without paperwork showing a right to work in the United Kingdom.
  • Paid him cash in hand.
  • Paid less than the minimum wage.
  • Did not keep or maintain PAYE records.
  • Reported to deduct tax from the employee.
  • Did not account to HMRC for the tax deducted but kept it himself.

In that case there were serious criminal offences being committed by the premises licence holder and the Licensing Sub-Committee in Braintree found that the case law provided significant points of difference from my client’s position. In addition, they were impressed with the evidence given by People Force International’s representative about the way the systems would be robust and audited moving forward. The Police, in their attempts for revocation jumped straight to paragraphs in the section 182 guidance that deal with the “reviews arising in connection with crime” suggesting in this case that as the premises licence holder had employed a person who was disqualified from work by reason of their immigration status, the jump should be straight to revocation.

However, the Committee was impressed with our argument citing paragraph 11.20 of the guidance which states “in deciding which of these powers to invoke, it is expected that Licensing Authorities should so far as possible seek to establish the cause or causes of the concerns that the representations identifies. The remedial action taken should generally be directed at the causes and should always be no more than appropriate and proportionate response to address the causes of concerns that instigated the review.”

The other section of the guidance document which is of critical importance in cases such as this, paragraph 2.6, was introduced in the April 2017 version of the guidance and states “the prevention of crime includes the prevention of immigration crime including the prevention of illegal working in licensed premises. Licensing Authorities should work with Home Office Immigration Enforcement, as well as the Police, in respect of these matters. Licence conditions are considered appropriate for the prevention of illegal working in licensed premises might include requiring a premises licence holder to undertake right to work checks on all staff employed at the licensed premises or requiring that a copy of any document checked as part of the right to work check are retained at the licensed premises.”

I was very impressed with the way that Braintree District Council approached this case and that the Licensing Sub-Committee grasped the points of difference between our instant cases and that of the East Lindsey decision. They determined that it was appropriate and proportionate to promote the licensing objectives to impose additional conditions on the licences which allows the premises to continue to trade. I should also point out that the two premises were significantly invested in. The quality of the fit out and interior of the two shops was exceptional. The CCTV system was all encompassing digital and covered internal and external positions. Importantly, the Committee commented on the fact that there had been no suggestion of any other crime and disorder issues at the premises, nor any intelligence to suggest that illegal workers had been employed since the original raid of the premises in November 2016.