ESLJ is to publish a special issue on Entertainment and Alcohonl Licensing Law and the Night time Economy in Spring 2019. The guest editor is Prof. Daithí Mac Síthigh (Queen's University Belfast).
Fifteen years on from the landmark Licensing Act 2003 in England and Wales, what are the key issues, in terms of law, business, culture, and policing, that require further research?
The intervening years have seen sustained Parliamentary interest in the impact of 2003’s changes. The Live Music Act 2012 and the sexual entertainment provisions of the Policing and Crime Act 2009 amended the Act - the former to dispense with licensing requirements in some situations, and the latter to require a special licence, assessed under different criteria. ‘Deregulation’ has been applied to various forms of entertainment, including certain circuses, performances, community events, and film showings. Other legislation and policy initiatives now attempt to regulate related aspects of urban life and the night time economy, through public spaces protection orders, and schemes such as Local Alcohol Action Areas. A House of Lords committee offered broad criticisms of the 2003 Act in a 2017 report, and proposed widescale reforms including the use of the procedures of planning law and the way in which enforcement is funded. Home Office guidance has proven influential, though local authorities also have a significant role to play. The courts have played a role, too - especially in challenges to local authority decisions on procedural impropriety grounds, though the impact of EU law on the provision of services has also started to emerge.
Although the 2003 Act repealed older legislation (including some historic distinctions between London and elsewhere), distinctive systems are still in place outwith England and Wales. Major reforms to alcohol licensing in Scotland came about in 2005, though were subsequently revisited in 2009 and 2015. Entertainment licensing still remains within the scope of older legislation, though again with certain changes made of late. The patchwork of rules applying in Northern Ireland were reviewed by its Department of the Environment in 2015, though not yet implemented.
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Posted on 17 Aug 2018