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Hackney campaign group granted permission for judicial review of council’s licensing policy

A group of Hackney residents campaigning to change the borough council’s new licensing regulations for Dalston and Shoreditch have been given permission for a judicial review of the policy.

Posted on 27 March 2019

Although they were given permission for a judicial review on all grounds, the We Love Hackney group were not granted a Cost Capping Order (CCO), leaving them open to the possibility of paying huge legal bills if they lose their judicial review challenge. 

A hearing is taking place on the morning of 27 March to consider We Love Hackney’s renewed application of the CCO application decision, which was initially considered on the papers. 

We Love Hackney is a not for profit company set up by local residents who campaign for policies that support a diverse, innovative and thriving night-time economy for all local people in Hackney.

The campaign group are challenging new restrictions under a revised Statement of Licensing Policy (SLP) which was adopted by Hackney Council on 18 July 2018. The SLP extends and maintains the Special Policy Area (SPA) in Shoreditch and Dalston and adopts a new “core hours” policy. The “core hours” policy requires all new venues to close at 11pm during the week and at midnight at the weekends. Outside drinking is also not permitted after 10pm. An express presumption has also been put in place against granting any new late night licenses for venues in the SPA.

We Love Hackney argue that the decision was unlawful because it failed to have due regard to the public sector equality duty, contrary to the Equality Act and that the councillors were not provided with sufficient information so as to be able to be able to take account of all relevant considerations when deciding to adopt the SLP. They believe that the council failed to consider the impact of the “core hours” policy on young people who are more likely to use and work in the night-time economy and on the LGBTQ+ community as there are numerous independent venues which serve the community in this area. The group also argues that forcing restrictions on businesses opening hours will deter new businesses from opening in Hackney which will result in the night-time economy stagnating.

Anna Dews, solicitor at Leigh Day law firm, said: 

“This is the first judicial review of an Statement of Licensing Policy by reference to the public sector equality duty and we are delighted that our clients have been granted permission, However, as a not for profit organisation, bringing this novel, public interest litigation on behalf of the wider community, it is vital that their costs are capped to minimise the risks of paying unaffordable legal bills if they lose. Our client has made it clear that without the benefit of a costs capping order, they will have no choice but to withdraw the claim and it cannot be in the public interest for an issue such as this to be left unresolved.”