Nightclub pays price for unruly clientele

Posted: 11th November 2013

Disco ballThe owners of a London nightclub have failed to overturn tough licensing conditions that were imposed after the police and others complained about incidents of crime and disorder associated with its hard-drinking clientele.

The police had sought revocation of the club’s license and, although Westminster City Council’s licensing committee declined to go that far, it had imposed more than 20 conditions on the club’s operation, including an embargo on drinks being served in glass containers, a ban on music being played after 3am and a requirement that the doors be closed to punters at midnight.

The owners of the club had appealed against these three conditions to a district judge, who dismissed their challenge following an eight-day hearing. They obtained a temporary stay on the implementation of the conditions pending a further appeal to the High Court.

The club’s owners argued that the conditions were so stringent that they would render unviable a business in which they had invested £1-2 million.  It was submitted that substantial efforts had been made to ensure that the club’s clients behaved and that the conditions were excessive.

Dismissing the appeal, the court noted that that the conditions had been imposed after complaints were received from the police, the Council as licensing and health and safety authority, a local resident and a conservation trust. The interests of the club’s owners had to be balanced against the wider public interest in the suppression of crime and the maintenance of good order.

The stay had been obtained without proper notice having been given to the Council, although the club’s owners had apologised for that failure and the Court accepted that there had been nothing ‘underhand’ about it. However, in dismissing the appeal, the Court found that the district judge’s decision was not even arguably wrong.

Despite recognising the grave impact the conditions would have on the business, the Court noted that complaints that the club was a focus of unruly behaviour had continued after the licensing committee’s meeting and, in those circumstances, the district judge’s decision was unimpeachable.