Licensing panel information and procedure


The procedure for obtaining a Licence involves consultation with a number of bodies and agencies, including the police, and also local residents and businesses.  If any representations are received, within the appropriate timescale, concerning the application there will need to be a hearing to listen to the views of all parties, unless it can be agreed that this is not necessary. In addition, a hearing must be arranged if a request to review a Premises Licence is received.

The Licensing Panel which deals with contested applications acts as the Licensing Authority, not the Local Authority. This is because it must retain impartiality in respect of all matters and there are other parts of the Local Authority, known as ‘Responsible Authorities’, who may wish to make representations on a matter. The hearing will normally be dealt with by a Licensing Panel of 3 elected Members. 

Who will be at a hearing?

Elected Members

They are elected to office to serve and represent the interests of the public and District as a whole, but must also follow legal rules and standing orders. They have all received relevant training in the law, procedures and established good practice.

Legal Advisor

An employee of the Council who is a specialist in the law in respect of which the hearing is being held. S/he is required to give independent advice to the Members on legal matters, procedure and to ensure balance and fairness.

Democratic Services Officer

An employee of the Council who will take notes of the hearing so that proper minutes are kept and ensure that the correct procedures are followed.

Licensing Officer

An employee of the Licensing Authority who deals with the administration required by the Act in respect of applications. S/he will introduce the matter, summarise the application and confirm that the required administrative arrangements have been dealt with by submitting a report on each matter for consideration by the elected Members.

Parties to the hearing

Including, if applicable, the applicant and any interested parties or responsible authorities who have raised representations on the matter to be considered.

Members of the public

All hearings will normally be held in the presence of the public, including the press.

The pre-hearing process


Whenever an application attracts representations or another matter arises requiring consideration at a hearing, a number of notices and pieces of information must be provided to ensure that everyone is aware of how the matter will be determined.  These must be served within very tight time-scales so it is likely that the amount of notice given could be quite short. You will find, enclosed with this leaflet, a formal notice of hearing.

If the public interest would be better served by adjourning the matter beyond the normally required time-scale, this can, in some cases, be arranged although it will be necessary to advise all parties of the new arrangements and the reasons. 

Similarly, it may become necessary, once the hearing has started, to adjourn a matter to another date or to provide specified additional days for the consideration of representations or notices. Again, all parties will be advised of these revised arrangements. 

Every applicant and other party to the hearing will also have received the Notice advising them of the date, time and place of the hearing. If this is likely to last for more than 1 day, this will, where possible, be arranged to take place on consecutive working days.

When the Notice of Hearing is received, it is necessary for all parties to then send a notification to the Council which will confirm:

  • Whether they intend to attend, or be represented by, another person at the meeting.
  • Whether a hearing is considered to be unnecessary.
  • Any request for permission to allow another person to attend, giving the name of that person and brief details of the points upon which they may be able to assist. Such requests will be considered at the start of the hearing and will be granted where they can assist the Panel in clarifying issues of relevance. 

The latest time for the receipt of this information is indicated in the Notice of Hearing.  

Rights of those attending

All parties will have the right to:

  • Attend the hearing and be assisted by someone of their choosing or, if they cannot attend themselves, represented by someone else in their absence. It is not necessary for that representative to be a lawyer or have any other qualification.
  • Provide further information in response to a point which the Licensing Authority has advised will need to be clarified.
  • Address the Licensing Panel.
  • If permission has been given by the Chair, to question any other party.


These must have been received in writing within the time-scale indicated on the Public Notice or press advert when the application was originally made. All information received will be provided, with the Licensing Officers report, to the Licensing Panel for consideration before the matter is determined.

Information and documents provided outside the timescale for receipt of representations, or produced at the hearing, cannot be considered unless all parties agree.

Representations can be withdrawn by notifying the licensing department at least 24 hours before the Hearing. 

Failure of Parties to Attend

If any party confirms that they will not be attending or be represented at a hearing, or fails to confirm attendance, the hearing this may proceed in their absence. If a party requests an adjournment due to difficulties with attendance at the scheduled hearing, then it may be adjourned to another specified day if it is in the interests of fairness to all parties to do so. The revised date, time and place of which will be notified to all parties. Otherwise, the hearing may proceed in that party’s absence. If the hearing continues in the absence of any party, any representations or notices received will still be considered before the matter is determined.

The hearing


A Hearing will take place unless all parties have indicated that they believe this to be unnecessary. You will be informed if this is the case. In these cases, all written representations which have been received will be considered before a decision is made.

Although the Licensing Panel will be reasonably informal in its approach, it has procedures that must be followed to ensure fairness.

The Hearing will take place in public unless it would not be in the public interest for it, or any part of the hearing, to be heard in this way. The Licensing Panel may be advised, for example, that certain information may prejudice impending criminal proceedings.

The Licensing Panel will also have the right to exclude any person who is being disruptive although they may be permitted to return on specified conditions. However, if they had been entitled to provide information verbally to the hearing, they will still retain the right to provide that information in writing.

Each matter under consideration has been summarised in a Report from the Licensing Officer which contains all written representations received from all parties, and will already have been provided to the Licensing Panel members. In these circumstances, the comments made by parties at the hearing should be concise and should not repeat in detail what has already been submitted.  For this reason, it may sometimes be necessary for a maximum equal amount of time to be allocated for each party to speak at the discretion of the Chair. If further time is allowed in a particular case, all parties will be allocated the same extended time.

The Legal Adviser may, in order to ensure all relevant issues are addressed, question any party or approved representative to ensure that the hearing is conducted fairly and to clarify any matter arising. 

The Licensing Panel will disregard information which is not relevant to an application, the representations made or the Licensing Objectives or Principles.

The strict legal rules of evidence will not be applied and evidence will not be required to be given on oath.


  1. The Chair will begin the hearing by introducing himself/herself. The role of the Chair is to control the proceedings. All questions must be put through the Chair. The Chair will then:
    • introduce all other parties
    • provide a brief outline of the procedure for the hearing
    • the Chair may decide to give each party to the hearing an equal amount of time to present their cases and will specify the details of this at the outset, as appropriate.
  2. The Licensing Officer present will provide a brief outline of the nature of the application and of the valid relevant representations received from interested parties and responsible authorities, making reference to the report.
  3. In accordance with the relevant Hearing Regulations the hearing shall take the form of an informal discussion. This will be led by the Chair during which each party, or their representative, will be called upon to summarise the application, notice or representation.
  4. The Chair will normally allow parties to question other parties to the hearing but this is only with a view to establishing the facts in issue in order to assist the Panel in reaching a fully informed decision. Over aggressive questioning and formal cross examination will not be permitted.
  5. The first to be asked to speak will normally be the applicant, or provider of the appropriate Notice, followed by those making representations about the application or answering points raised in the Notice.
  6. Where there are a number of interested parties and the nature of the representations are similar, such parties are encouraged to appoint a spokesperson to represent the group.
  7. During the discussion Members of the Panel may ask questions to any party to elicit further information. The Council’s legal advisor may also ask questions of any party in order to clarify the evidence and any issues in the case.
  8. All parties will be given the opportunity to briefly summarise their key points.
  9. At the end of the hearing, the Chair will announce that the hearing is adjourned while the Panel retires to deliberate in private.
  10. The Panel will then determine the application in accordance with relevant Council’s Licensing Policy, the relevant Acts, Regulations and Guidance.
  11. The public, press and all parties will be allowed to return and, normally, the decision, together with reasons, will be communicated immediately. In some cases, such as those where a hearing has been agreed to be unnecessary, the decision does not have to be delivered immediately.
  12. A written decision outlining the full reasons for the decision will be sent to the parties. The parties will also be advised of their rights to appeal.