Following news that Farringdon's Fabric nightclub has had its licence re-instated, licensing barrister Gareth Hughes shares his views on the case.
It has been announced that iconic nightclub Fabric is to re-open after having its licence revoked at a hearing several weeks ago. The club initiated an appeal to the magistrates court which did not proceed to a full hearing because the premises licence holder was able to agree with Islington Council on substantial revisions to the premises licence which has led to settlement of the appeal. Reports have suggested that the 32 new conditions set out in the agreement have been outlined by Fabric and the police in a joint statement. They include the banning of 18 year olds, the use of a new ID scanning system, enhanced searching procedures, physical changes to the club, and lifetime bans for anyone found in possession of drugs or attempting to buy drugs in the club.
It was disappointing that Islington licensing subcommittee chose, in the first place, to revoke the premises licence for Fabric notwithstanding what the club offered by way of amendments to the licence at the initial hearing. It seemed to many legal practitioners that there were many options open to the council short of closure of a world leading landmark venue such as this club. They could have also been given the opportunity to put the agreed measures in place prior to beige allowed to re-open. The police request for revocation seemed disproportionate when one considers that a leading hotel where individuals have died of drug overdoses has not had its premises licence revoked and a supermarket in London where four young women were stabbed in the its car park has not also had its licence subject to review. The incidents of two young people dying after a night at Fabric are, of course, very serious and the reasons why this occurred needed to be addressed by the club. However, the revocation of a licence for a premises with a very long history and after having had several million people pass through its doors without any issues arising was disproportionate.
What the settlement today establishes is that much can be achieved if the police and council officers sit down with very experienced operators to address problems jointly and to come up with workable solutions rather than proceeding to the nuclear option of revocation. The Licensing Act 2003 was designed to encourage greater partnership between operators, authorities and residents and this has ultimately been achieved here. It is unfortunate that it needed to go to court.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.