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Application for licence for 24-hour delivery of alcohol turned down

A district judge has upheld a council’s decision to refuse a licence for 24-hour London alcohol delivery in London. Horatio Waller explains why.

The London Borough of Camden refused to grant a premises licence to enable a 24-hour delivery operation to commence from a convenience store based on Charing Cross Road. The convenience store already had premises licences in place enabling off-sales until the early hours of the morning. Under existing licences the operator already sold a limited amount of alcohol via couriers using App technology such as Deliveroo. The intention was to significantly expand the frequency of alcohol delivery sales and to enable sales 24 hours. Following representations from the police and licensing authority, the council determined to grant a licence but to restrict its hours in line with the council framework hours. 

The decision was upheld following a one day hearing before District Judge Newton in Highbury & Islington Magistrates’ Court. The Judge firstly rejected an argument that the hearing (conducted remotely) had been procedurally unfair by reason of the presence of a cat in the company of one of the councillors who sat on the sub-committee. 

On the substantive appeal, the Judge was not satisfied that the operation could be conducted without causing nuisance to residents in flats above the convenience store, for example through noise during the collection process.

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The Judge further accepted the council’s submission that the concerns arising from the delivery operation would exacerbate the nuisance already arising, caused by customers attending the convenience store. Rejecting the submission that she should focus her analysis only on the delivery operation, the Judge noted that there was no offer to surrender the existing licences and therefore the operator could operate under the new licence and old licences in tandem.

District Judge Newton further accepted the submissions of the council in relation to the point of delivery. The operator and responsible authorities could not have any control over the independent couriers who would perform deliveries and she was satisfied that there were real risks that alcohol would be sold to minors or intoxicated persons. The Judge noted that it is not realistic to expect a courier to wait for a customer to produce ID documents or to establish that they are the same person as the one who placed the order.

There was evidence provided to the Judge that she accepted that deliveries would likely be to residential addresses where there was a risk of noise nuisance at the delivery point. The Judge accepted that, given the location of the convenience store and the way the app technology operators, deliveries would likely be the area in proximity to the convenience store which is in a cumulative impact area.

The full judgment can be accessed here.

Horatio Waller is a barrister at Francis Taylor Building. He appeared for the London Borough of Camden.

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