This month in summary
New Year crystal ball gazing
With January just over the horizon, now is a good time to look forward to what 2018 is likely to bring…
Data protection is going to be one of the hot topics of 2018. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force from Spring 2018. It affects anyone who acts as either a data controller, or a data processor, setting rules for how businesses are expected to hold and process data. It also brings in a raft of rights for individuals to make requests of organisations holding their data.
For most licensed premises who operate CCTV and/ or have a database of customers containing personal information, there are certain obligations that must be complied with now in terms of processing data and others that are likely to become law in 2018. We will cover this topic in much greater detail in the New Year, but if you want to consider the potential ramifications, you can go to the Information Commissioner's website and keep an eye on TLT's hot topic page for GDPR.
Whilst a lot of the recommendations of the House Of Lords in their report on licensing appearing to have been kicked into the tall grass, all hands to the Brexit pump probably playing a part in this decision, one this is for certain and that is the Guidance issued to licensing authorities in relation to all licensing applications will be updated. Quite how far these changes will go probably depends on how much time the Secretary of State can give to the issue; however it is likely that the next revised version of the Guidance will contain some fairly radical measures. We will report fully as soon as any new guidance is published.
Focus on Immigration
2017 saw the introduction of the Immigration Act 2016, with additional powers of entry given to immigration officers, as well as powers to close premises employing illegal workers. It is likely, given the current push toward Brexit and tighter border controls, that immigration officers will look to target the entertainment and hospitality sectors, having recognised that significant numbers of foreign workers are employed by the sector. This year saw a rise in reviews for immigration offences and 2018 will only see an increase in such scrutiny and enforcement.
The Supreme Court decision that minimum unit pricing does not breach EU law has put the issue firmly back on the agenda. MUP was first approved in Scotland in 2012, but the legal case has rumbled on since then. However, with the decision this year, the issue is likely to re-surface, most likely in Wales to begin with, but then nationwide as the health lobby seek to get the measure on the statute books south of the border.
Whilst the Government has stated it will wait to see what happens in Scotland, the clamour for action will only get louder on the back of the Supreme Court's decision.
Government consulted in 2017 on the introduction of the agent of change principle into the National Planning Policy Framework, with the results expected in the New Year. If adopted, the principle will offer protection to premises that conduct noisy activities, such as live music venues, by making developers responsible for ensuring any new residential properties built nearby are properly attenuated to prevent nuisance, rather than making the premises responsible for the noise being required to adapt. If this is introduced, the Government has said that the licensing guidance will be updated to ensure it is consistent with the policy.
Since the inception of the Licensing Act in 2005, residents complaining about nuisance from music venues have generally had the upper hand, leading to the closure of a number of venues nationwide. With any luck, the adoption of the agent of change principle, if the Government go with it, will provide much needed support to premises.
At least one potential happy note for premises in this time of uncertainty… Merry Christmas from TLT's licensing team.
The Gambling Commission has announced that Sarah Harrison, its Chief Executive, will be leaving the Commission at the end of February 2018. She will be moving to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Chairman of the Commission Bill Moyes stated:
“The Gambling Commission has set an ambitious agenda and clear priorities for treating customers fairly and making play safer and our new three-year strategy embeds this approach for the future. Sarah’s impact has been significant in shaping this direction of travel. I and my Board colleagues wish Sarah every success for the future and look forward to continuing to work with her to deliver this agenda over the next few months.”
The Gambling Commission will make an announcement when her replacement is appointed.
New Gambling Commission research raises concerns that children are able to experience gambling without having the consequences of doing so properly explained.
In particular, new technology provides children with opportunities to access free-to-play casino games via social media or within some computer games, where the same level of protections or responsible gambling messages as found in regulated gambling products are absent.
Tim Miller, Gambling Commission Executive Director said “We require gambling operators to have strong protections in place to prevent children from accessing their products and are actively reviewing how some, like age verification, can continue to be strengthened.
“However, it is clear that many children’s experiences of gambling-style activities are coming from the playground, the games console or social media rather than the bookmaker, the casino or the gambling website. That’s why it is essential that we work across industries and with parents so that together we can protect children and encourage those that choose to gamble in adulthood to do so safely.”
Given the emphasis that the Gambling Commission puts on preventing children and vulnerable adults from accessing gambling, it is likely that this is something that will be focussed on in the future.
Out and about
November found us combining the usual early start of the festive season with hearings around the country. Hearings included visits to authorities for premises in Nantwich, Leeds, Birmingham, Wantage, Bristol, Godalming, Winchester and Walthamstow, to name a few. Events that we took part in, in particular, included the AIF Festival Congress and the Midlands Annual Licensed Surveyors get-together. Of particular note was the local authority who took the robust decision to take no action following a review of a premises licence by a resident, despite a number of other residents supporting the review. The evidence presented demonstrated that the premises was doing all it could to prevent disturbance to local residents and the committee also recognised that no premises could, or should, be held to an unreasonable standard when it comes to people making noise in the town centre in general.