Revocation of License – Local Authority must follow its own rules

Revocation of License – Local Authority must follow its own rules

In the case of R (on the application of Bridge Row Ltd V Cheshire Chester BC) the High Court overturned a decision of the Local Authority to refuse a sex establishment license for an applicant after the decision to refuse a license was taken by a committee of twelve councillors. The Council’s constitution stated that decisions would be taken by a panel of three councillors and the committee would be politically balanced.

It is a fundamental principal of public law that a public body must act in accordance with its own constitution. This is known as ‘procedural propriety’. No doubt the application for a sex establishment license was hugely controversial for the Local Authority which led to the full licensing committee deciding to sit in upon the decision. Unfortunately that was not permissible under the council’s constitution. On that basis the decision taken by the twelve counsellors was unlawful and was set aside. The decision is a timely reminder to Local Authorities that they must act in accordance with their own constitution in making any decision. For an applicant that is facing a decision for a Local Authority it is always a sensible course to check out the constitution of the council as stated in its constitution as to how it will reach a decision.

Blog by Winston Brown

Winston Brown is the Principal Solicitor of Brown & Co Solicitors which specialise in licensing law. If you wish to discuss your matter, please call us on 020 8858 5996, or email us at

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