Guidance for responsible authorities, applicants, objectors and others.
Commitment to Fair Hearings
Committee Members wish to ensure all parties receive a fair hearing. The purpose of the Committee hearing is to enable those with a right to appear to put forward their views. Additionally, the hearing is designed to assist the Committee together evidence and understand the relevant issues.
Fair Treatment of Attendees
Everyone should be treated with respect. Disruptive behaviour will not be tolerated and the Committee may require such a person to leave (although usually a warning will be given beforehand). Such a person may, before the end of the hearing, submit to the authority in writing any information which they would have been entitled to give orally.
Any legal advice will be either given in open session or repeated to everyone present.
Multiple Objections by Members of the Public.
The Chairman will encourage such a group to appoint one spokesperson to ask questions and make submissions on behalf of all the objectors. This is considered important to the smooth and efficient running of the Committee hearing. Although this means each objector is not heard individually it does not mean their representations are not taken into account. It is merely that a case does not gain weight through repetition.
The Committee may admit hearsay evidence. For example.
- My neighbour says they were kept up all night
- My son saw under 18's being served
- The newspaper reported a fight
- A petition or letter from residents pointing out a particular view of the application
However, the weight the Committee attaches to such evidence may be less than hearing from the witness first hand because it cannot be tested by cross examination.
Objectors will not be permitted to raise new grounds for objections at the hearing.
There are specific legal rules concerning late objections and the appropriate regulations must be followed.
The committee may intervene as appropriate to ensure the smooth and efficient running of the committee. For example, where irrelevant information is being supplied to it or require a witness who fails to answer the actual question.
Many licensing contests can be resolved if the parties talk sensibly about conditions. The Committee would encourage this to take place. This may be done to save time and narrow the issues and does not mean that the Committee has a view about the case either way.
The Committee will usually invite comment upon proposed conditions before imposing them and will only decide to impose conditions where it is necessary to refuse the application before them. The Committee will also consider whether objections may be overcome by conditions.
The Committee may adjourn proceedings where appropriate but only for good reason. The Committee may however proceed in any parties absence in the interest of justice.
Representation of Parties
Any party may be represented by another whether they are legally qualified or not. In cases of multiple objections from members of the public the Committee recommends the appointment of a single spokesperson for the group who will coordinate questions and comments for the group.
Any party wishing to call a witness to give evidence must request permission to do so in advance of the hearing. Notice must be given of the name of the witness and the points they will deal with in evidence.
Notice must usually be received by the Council at least 5 days before the hearing. No party has an automatic right to cross examine a witness and must seek permission form the Chairman to do so.
Exclusion of the Public
Hearings will usually be in public. However, the Committee may exclude the public (including a part to the hearing) if it is in the public interest to do so.