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Ince Gordon Dadds Emergency Response +442072836999

Licensed premises | Criminal defence

A premises licence is a valuable asset, but with it comes responsibilities for the premises licence holder, as underpinned by the requirement to promote the four licensing objectives.

Should your premises be faced with a criminal investigation, the police may begin with an interview under caution. We are able to prepare you for this critical interview and advise you accordingly whilst ensuring all steps are taken to avoid prosecution or conviction. At the same time there may be parallel proceedings brought by the police or the Licensing Authority under the Licensing Act 2003 to review your premises licence. In our experience, such regulatory proceedings may come first and thus being given an opportunity to respond to a “charge” in a licensing hearing, where there may be an ongoing or potential prosecution, brings with it all sorts of issues and such hearings must be handled expertly.

In a criminal investigation a licence holder has a right to silence. Whether to exercise that right needs careful consideration – but whilst that may be appropriate in a criminal investigation, is it the right strategy when faced with a review of the premises licence? Sitting before a Licensing Committee that has powers to revoke your premises licence, and exercising the right to silence at that hearing, may not be the right strategy.

Should criminal proceedings commence, we are best placed to advise licensees on their criminal defence. We have acted for pub companies, supermarket chains as well as individual licence holders faced with breaches of licensing law and other legislation. The penalties on conviction are often harsh, and may also result in the loss of a licence holder’s personal licence.

Case Studies

  • Acting for a client who was served with an Emergency Prohibition Notice. Although this was in relation to a breach of Food Safety Regulation, the client held a premises licence. The client was summoned to court and pleaded guilty to 9 offences. The Magistrates Court imposed a substantial fine. We successfully appealed this sentence.
  • Representing an off licence holder who was prosecuted for possessing cigarettes without having the appropriate health warnings on. He had taken over the shop which had had a poor compliance history and following a visit by Trading Standards he was alleged to have been in possession of such cigarettes. We successfully argued that these cigarettes were not his property and belonged to the previous owner. They were found on premises which were not part of our client’s lease.
  • Acting for companies and individuals accused of underage sales and putting forward due diligence defences.
  • Acting for a national drinks supplier accused of selling alcohol without a licence. Our engagement ensured no prosecution was brought.
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