Council wins landmark Supreme Court licensing case

Date: 
Wed, 19/07/2017

The Supreme court has today handed down its final judgment in Hemming (t/a Simply Pleasure Ltd) and others v Westminster City Council, a long running case determining how licensing fees are charged.

The Court has decided that Westminster City Council are able to recover possibly up to £1.3million which they were ordered by the Court of Appeal to pay to the claimants.

The case will affect councils and other licence fee charging bodies across the UK allowing them to recoup regulatory and enforcement costs instead of just the administration costs of granting a licence.

The original case was brought against the Council by the owner of the Simply Pleasures Ltd over licensing fees paid to operate a sex shop in Westminster. The Supreme Court has confirmed its original decision to overturn the Court of Appeal ruling on this case, Hemming (t/a Simply Pleasure Ltd) and others v Westminster City Council, in the councils favour.

After the original Court of Appeals decision the Council made repayments of over £1.3million to the licence holders, and now the High Court will make a ruling about the return of these repayments.

In response to the Supreme Court ruling Westminster Councillor Antonia Cox, Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Licensing, said;

“Westminster City Council welcomes the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision. Common sense has been restored meaning that  our council tax and business rate payers do not have to bear the burden of paying for licensing and enforcement charges which relate to the running costs of these establishments.

“Sex shop operators must now return to the process of paying their licence fees for the costs incurred to the Council in undertaking regulatory and enforcement activity.

“The Supreme Court has confirmed its original decision to overturn the Court of Appeal ruling on this case in our favour and this matter has now been returned to the High Court to make a ruling on costs.  

“The importance of this case for the country as a whole cannot be underestimated. We have been determined to fight this battle, not only on behalf of our residents and businesses, but for all licensing authorities across the country.”


Last updated: 2 November 2017
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