Imposing start times postpones the party

The licensing industry will have to wait until October for the result of a case that could turn out to be a signpost ruling determining the extent to which licensing justices can impose conditions on Special Hours certificates.

Licensee Steven Shipley is fighting against the imposition by licensing justices at Cannock in the West Midlands of start time limits on a Special Hours certificate for his premises.

The Cannock justices, in granting Shipley a Special Hours certificate, included a 7pm opening limitation. Shipley applied for judicial review of the stance taken by the justices, but, in the High Court last December, Mr Justice Keene refused to grant one.

Shipley argues that the justices were not entitled to restrict the start time of permitted hours when the commencement deadline imposed was within normal permitted hours.

He claims that the High Court judge was wrong legally in ruling that the provisions of the 1964 Licensing Act gave the justices the right to impose such a condition. Shipley also argues that Special Hours certificates must apply to periods after the end of normal permitted hours and not before.

The case also raises questions about the criteria applicable in relation to the granting of Special Hours certificates. The judges will be asked to decide whether, when it comes to granting such certificates, the sale of alcohol has to be legally classified as an ancillary to music and dancing.

It is claimed, inter alia, that up until the end of normal permitted hours it is not necessary for sale of drink to be an ancillary to music and dancing in order to comply with the terms of the certificate.