QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
B e f o r e :
|THE CHIEF OFFICER OF POLICE FOR THE COUNTY OF LEICESTERSHIRE||Appellant|
|- v -|
|SHIRLEY DAWN TATAM||Respondent|
Smith Bernal, 190 Fleet Street, London EC4
Telephone No: 020 7421 4040
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR MARTIN F WALSH (instructed by Messrs Halliwells, Manchester, M2 2JS) appeared on behalf of THE RESPONDENT
Crown Copyright ©
Friday, 29 April 2005
MR JUSTICE MITTING:
"Licensing justices may grant a justices' licence to any such person not disqualified under this or any other Act from holding a justices' licence, as they think fit and proper."
"We found the respondent a fit and proper person and granted the application taking account of our findings that the premises had, notwithstanding the incident on 24 May, been well run for almost five months."
".... it diverts attention from the simple and specific question which, before the justices in the Crown Court, had to be asked and answered: was Mr Kehoe a fit and proper person to be the licensee of the Weavers Hotel? The factual findings already recited already make it plain that he was, personally and professionally, a fit and proper person. In other words, he could be relied on to run the licensed premises in a competent and law-abiding manner, in accordance with the conditions of any licence granted."
It is thus plain that the heart of the test to be applied by the justices is whether or not the licensee can be relied on to run the licensed premises in a competent and law-abiding manner.
"Were we entitled to find the respondent a fit and proper person to hold a Justices' Licence in the circumstances?"
The answer is "Yes".
MR WALSH: My Lord, there is an application for costs against the appellant. I wonder if I can address you at a little length about it?
MR JUSTICE MITTING: Yes.
MR WALSH: The position is this, that under section 193(b) of the Licensing Act, justices have a discretion to make an award for costs in any licensing application in respect of licensed premises. No application was made, and certainly no application was granted when this matter came before the justices.
MR JUSTICE MITTING: No, in the light of the way the case went it was hardly surprising.
MR WALSH: Absolutely, and indeed there is authority for saying that the police statutory authority should not be penalised in costs when they bring genuine concerns to the attention of Licensing Justices. The situation is different here. The justices in a measured and balanced way concluded that the licensee was a fit and proper person to hold a licence. No leave was required for the police to proceed with this appeal and the licensee is effectively under an obligation to respond to it. In those circumstances, in the light of your Lordship's judgment, I would ask for an order for costs in this case.
MR JUSTICE MITTING: Is there a schedule or not?
MR WALSH: No, there is not. I would ask for an assessment in default of agreement.
MR JUSTICE MITTING: Thank you.
MR MONK: My Lord, the only point I can make in response to that is this. As your Lordship has said, there were matters in the court below to the discredit of the licensee, and against the background of those matters of discredit and the, in my submission, justifiable concerns that the Leicestershire Constabulary had about this matter, costs being within the discretion of the court, the application for costs should be refused.
MR JUSTICE MITTING: Thank you. I order that the appellant pay the costs of the respondent. I do so because, although the appellant was undoubtedly right to bring these matters of concern before the Licensing Committee, by pursuing this appeal it went well beyond the function that it could pursue without risk as to costs. This was an appeal which, for the reasons which I have indicated, never stood any prospect of success. It should not have been brought and the respondent is entitled to have the costs of resisting it. They will be assessed if not agreed.