Decision making by the Sub-Committees

The Licensing Sub-Committee will meet to consider the representations made by interested parties, responsible authorities and the applicant and make its decision, usually on the day of the hearing, based upon the following:

  • the merits of the application
  • the promotion of the four licensing objectives, as laid out in the Licensing Act 2003
  • our licensing policy
  • the Guidance issued by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport 

Dispensing with a hearing

If all parties agree, by giving written notice, we may dispense with holding a hearing. During the preliminary stages of the hearing all parties will be given the opportunity to dispense with the hearing.

Withdrawal of representations

A party who wishes to withdraw any representation may do so by giving informing us no later than 24 hours before the first date of the hearing, or orally at any stage of the hearing.

Extensions of time and adjournments

We may extend a time limit given in the provisions, if we believe it to be in the public interest to do so. If we do we must give notice to all parties, stating the period of the extension and reasons for it.

We may adjourn a hearing to a specified date or arrange for a hearing to be held on specified additional dates, where we consider it necessary. Where a hearing has been adjourned we will notify the parties of the new date, time and place for the new hearing. Where additional dates for a hearing have been arranged, likewise we will notify all parties of the additional dates.

We cannot exercise the above powers if the effect would be that the application be granted or rejected.

Hearings held in public

Our Hearings Procedure »

Hearings will generally be held in public. The Sub-Committee may exclude the public from all or part of a hearing if it considers that public interest is best served by doing so and, in this instance, a party and any person representing or assisting a party may be treated as a member of the public.

The Sub-Committee may require anyone attending the hearing who is, in its opinion, behaving in a disruptive manner to leave the hearing. That person may be re-admitted if the Sub-Committee permits, but if not they will be entitled to give to the Sub-Committee in writing and before the close of the hearing any information that they would otherwise have given verbally.

Representations and supporting information

Any party may ask questions of another party, however cross-examination is not encouraged by the Act. We may take into account documentary or other information produced by the party in support of the application before the hearing, or if all parties consent, at the hearing.

Qualified Privilege

Statements made in Sub-Committee meetings are subject to the general principles of the law of defamation, however the Sub-Committee's proceedings are regarded in law as a 'privileged occasion' subject to the statements made, having met the following criteria:

  • any opinions expressed are honestly held
  • opinions/statements are based on the facts of the matter
  • opinions/statements are on a matter of public interest
  • no malice is intended

Failure of parties to attend the hearing

If a party has told us that they will not attend or be represented at the hearing, the Sub-Committee may proceed in their absence.

If a party has not stated that they will not attend or be represented at the hearing, and does not attend on the day, the Sub-Committee may adjourn the hearing to a specified date if it is considered to be necessary in the public interest; or hold the hearing in the party's absence. When considering whether to adjourn or continue the hearing the Sub-Committee may seek the views of the parties present at the hearing.

Where the hearing is held in the party's absence the Sub-Committee will consider the application, representations or notice made by the absent party.

Where the hearing is adjourned to a specified date we will notify the parties. The Sub-Committee may be in a position to set the new date whilst the hearing is in session, or shortly afterwards and must notify the parties forthwith of the date, time and place to which the hearing has been adjourned.

The Roles of officers attending

Role of the Legal Advisor

This person will usually be an officer of the Council and will be legally qualified. They will previously have taken no part in the application, to preserve their impartiality. They may be asked by the Sub-Committee to provide advice or clarification on any procedural, technical or legal matter at any time during the hearing. In addition to responding to requests for advice, the Legal Advisor will give advice on:

  • questions of law
  • questions of mixed fact and law
  • matters of practice and procedure
  • the range of options available to the Sub-Committee
  • any relevant decision of higher courts
  • relevant national guidance or policy
  • other issues relevant to the matter before the Sub-Committee
  • the appropriate decision-making structure to be applied to any given case

The Legal Advisor may ask questions of witnesses and the parties in order to clarify the evidence and any issues.

When the Sub-Committee withdraws to make its determination/decision, the Legal Advisor may join the Sub-Committee, if invited, in order to give advice. The substance of advice given will be repeated when the Sub-Committee returns to the hearing, so that all parties have an opportunity to comment upon it. The Legal Advisor will then confirm or amend the advice.

The Legal Advisor will take no part in making findings of fact but may assist the Sub-Committee by reminding it of relevant evidence given during the hearing, formulating reasons and recording the reasons.

Role of the Administrator (Democratic Services officer)

This person is an officer of the Council whose role at a hearing is to make a record of the proceedings, summarise and record decisions and to provide help and assistance to members of the public attending hearings. They will previously have taken no part in the application process, in order to preserve their impartiality. However, they may have been in communication with all parties in the process of setting up the hearing. The officer may remain with the Sub-Committee when they withdraw to make their decision, in order to record that decision, but will take no part in making the decision or the findings of fact.


The authority will determine the issue within a given statutory time-frame. Notification of the determination must be passed onto the parties within 48 hours, of making the determination. The notice must be accompanied by information regarding the right of a party to appeal against the determination of the authority.

Right of Appeal

The applicant has a right of appeal to the Magistrate's Court within 21 days (beginning with the day on which the applicant was notified of our decision) against a decision to:

  • reject the application for a premises licence
  • impose conditions on a premises licence
  • exclude a licensable activity
  • refuse to specify a person as a premises supervisor.

A person who has made a relevant representation has a right of appeal to the Magistrate's Court within 21 days (beginning on the day on which the person was notified of the Licensing Authority's decision) against a decision:

  • to grant a premises licence
  • in relation to the conditions imposed
  • in relation to the licensable activities authorised
  • the person specified as a premises supervisor

However, there is a possible cost to this process, as the magistrates court may order the losing party to pay the costs of the `winning’ party. As an alternative, parties may wish to consider the review process

Contact the Licensing Section

Telephone: 01304 872295
Email: licensing@dover.gov.uk