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High Court rule Covid licence revocation was justified Published Date: 06/02/2023

Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council was entitled to revoke the licence of a pub that stayed open in breach of pandemic-era regulations, the High Court has ruled.

In The Porky Pint Ltd v Stockton On Tees Borough Council, three questions were put to the High Court:

  1. was he right to consider matters of public health when considering the four licensing objectives at section 4(2) Licensing Act 2003;
  2. was he right to take into account behaviour which did not result in a criminal prosecution for the purposes of determining an appeal against revocation of a premises licence;
  3. was he right to conclude that the pub's director and designated premises supervisor, Paul Henderson, had no lawful right to withhold CCTV footage on request by the council?

Fordham J dismissed the appeal stating: "I answer the Questions in the Stated Case (§11 above) as follows: [a] yes; [b] yes; and [c] yes."

Mr Justice Fordham said the Porky Pint must pay the council’s costs of almost £11,000 from two hearings.

Fordham J said licensing objectives were not restricted to ‘alcohol-related' matters and were “plainly capable of overlapping” he said that even though ‘public health’ was not a licensing objective its overlap with ‘public safety’ was apparent.

“Put another way, the fact that ‘public health’ is not present as a licensing objective does not 'strip out' anything which could be said to be ‘public health' from what properly falls within ‘public safety’”, Fordham J said.

He found no error in DJ Hood’s reasoning relating to ‘public health’, as given the term’s ordinary meaning, “there was nothing incorrect – still less unreasonable or unjustified – in the judge concluding, as the committee had before him, that this licensing objective was engaged and relevant”.