It’s a triple whammy as board again overruled
DRINKERS at one of Glasgow’s oldest pubs will be toasting the Scottish courts after they over-ruled the City of Glasgow Licensing Board (GLB) for the third time in the last six months.
The latest court battle arose after the GLB suspended the licence of the Blochairn – or The Budgie as it is known to locals – near Glasgow’s Fruitmarket.
Allegations were made and a review hearing called by police on the basis that alcohol had been sold by the bar at 12.20pm – ten minutes before the start of permitted licensed hours.
However, the licence holder produced three sworn statements and two letters supporting their position that the police had entered the premises after 12.30pm.
The court has repeatedly made it clear that the decisions of licensing boards must not be seen as irrational or arbitrary.
If a licensing board is to prefer, for example, the police over a licence holder, then it must state specifically why and how it reached its decision. If a board does not give a proper explanation as to why it chooses one version of events over another, then it appears as if it had simply flipped a coin to decide which version it preferred.
Earlier this year, licence holders at Northset and the owners of the Dhabba restaurant in the Merchant City won similar decisions where the rationale underpinning rulings made by the board lacked clarity.
In both cases, the licence holders applied for external drinking areas which were refused on questionable grounds.
Both applications were refused by GLB even where the areas had been approved by building control. In the case of Northset, the licensing board refused permission partly because the stairs leading to the area were “too steep” and in the case of Dhabba because the area would cause congestion for pedestrians – something the court later described as a “quantum leap in logic”.
• Frances Ennis is a Glasgow-based associate and licensing specialist at Pinsent Masons.
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