2.2 Report writing

Your report to the District Licensing Committee (DLC) is an important part of the application process. Your report will provide crucial information for the committee to consider in its decision making. This section provides guidance and tools for drafting your report.

Snapshot of this section

Your report should outline your position on the application and the legal grounds for this.  It could outline the evidence you intend to bring to support your position.

Your report must contain enough detail for the applicant to understand the issues they need to respond to at a hearing.

At a hearing you may be confined to the matters raised in your report.

Once the DLC has the application, all reports from the statutory agencies, and any public objections, it will hold a hearing or make a decision ‘on the papers’.

Go to toolbox

 

This section covers: 

Legal requirements: what the Act says

Best practice guidance

1. Preparing your report for the DLC

  1. Preparing your report – guidance for inspectors
  2. Preparing your report – guidance for Police and Medical Officers of Health

2. Decisions on applications

 

Legal requirements for Step 2 - what the Act says

The legal requirements for Step 2 are the same as for Step 1.

The statutory agencies have different roles in inquiring into, and reporting on, applications under the Act.

The role of inspectors

Inspectors:

  • must inquire into a licence application and file a report with the DLC (section 103(2)). There is no statutory time requirement on this report.
  • must inquire into an application for a manager’s certificate and file a report on the application with the DLC (section 220). There is no statutory time requirement on this report.

The role of Police

Police:

  • must inquire into a licence application, and if they have any matters in opposition to it, they must file a report with the DLC within 15 working days of receiving the application (section 103(3)).
  • must inquire into an application for a manager’s certificate, and if they have any matters in opposition to it, they must file a report with the DLC within 15 working days after receiving the application (section 220). 

The role of the Medical Officer of Health or their delegate:

The Medical Officer of Health or their delegate:

  • must inquire into a licence application, and if they have any matters in opposition to it, they must file a report with the DLC within 15 working days of receiving the application (section 103(3)).

Criteria for assessing applications

The Act sets out criteria for assessing different types of applications:

  • new licences - sections 105 and 106 
  • renewals - sections 105 and 131
  • special licences - section 142
  • manager’s certificates - sections 222 and 227.

The toolbox sets out the sections of the Act that are relevant to this step.

 

Best practice guidance for Step 2

2.2.1       Preparing your report for the DLC

This section provides guidance for drafting reports to the District Licensing Committee (DLC).

Preparing your report – guidance for inspectors

Inspectors must inquire into, and report to, the DLC on all applications.

Your report should contain:

  • detailed information on the application
  • an outline of your position on the application and the legal grounds for this
  • the evidence you intend to bring to support your position. 

 

When do you need to report?

The Act does not set a timeframe for your report to the DLC.  Public objections must be received within 15 working days after the first publication of the public notice. The Police and Medical Officer of Health must report within 15 working days after the application is sent to them. Once you have all this information, you can finish your report.

 

Your report is important

Your report to the DLC is an important part of the application process.  It provides crucial information for the DLC to consider in its decision making. DLC members cannot use their own knowledge in deciding an application (except that gathered during a site visit). They can only make decisions based on the evidence and submissions they receive. 

 

How detailed should your report be?

Provide as much detail in your report as you can. There are several reasons for this.

If the DLC decides to deal with the application ‘on the papers’ (without a hearing), your report must put forward the whole case you wish to make.

The DLC may call a hearing if you, or another agency, oppose the application or a member of the public objects (unless they do not want a hearing). In this case your report needs to contain enough information for the applicant to understand the issues they must address at a hearing.  Secondly, you may be confined to the matters raised in your report: you may not be able to introduce new points. Finally, providing a comprehensive report you will reduce the work you need to do for the hearing. 

 

What should your report cover?

Your report should include:

Information about the application:

  • application type
  • applicant and premises details
  • principal purpose and description of premises
  • days and hours sought
  • description of site location, surrounding area and any planning issues
  • details of Duty Managers

An assessment under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012

  • assessment of application against the criteria under the Act
  • relevant law – linking the issue to specific sections of the Act
  • analysis – establishing the issue’s relevance or link to the section(s) of the Act.  Draw on research and evidence that supports the case and use precedents that support the links and the desired outcome

Monitoring and reporting information

  • general reporting – including observations of the premises, prior levels of compliance, discussions with the licensee, manager or other relevant persons, and other information sources such as Controlled Purchase Operations etc
  • recent monitoring – if the application is for a Temporary Authority or a Renewal then you will continue monitoring the premises up until the hearing date.  Include this recent monitoring information in your report (any issues that arise from monitoring that occurred after you lodged your report can be covered in a supplementary report)

Information from other parties

  • details of public notification and any public objections received
  • any matters raised in reports from the Police or the Medical Officer of Health

Your comments and recommendations

  • possible options for conditions if the licence is issued
  • your comments
  • conclusion – this should follow logically from the analysis.  Remember, the conclusion is yours the DLC is not bound by it.If the case is strong, that will follow anyway
  • recommendation –the committee will evaluate any recommendations in the context of all the information and arguments that have been presented to it.

 

Templates for your report

Many organisations have templates that guide you through your report writing. Check if your organisation has a reporting template that you should use. 

The Toolbox contains a Reporting and hearing preparation template and an Inspector’s report template.

 

Engagement with the applicant

Once aware of your concerns, an applicant might decide to amend its application. Ideally, an applicant will have engaged with the reporting agencies before filing an application. Where prior engagement has not occurred, it can occur after application. In these cases, where your report raises matters in opposition, this can provide a basis for future engagement. To that end, you might wish to add comment along the following lines:

The applicant’s application was filed without prior engagement with the inspector. However, the inspector remains open to engagement with the applicant in relation to any of the matters raised in opposition in this report.

An applicant’s prospects of successfully arguing breach of natural justice will be significantly reduced if it has not taken up an invitation to engage with the reporting agencies on matters raised in opposition.

 

Preparing your report – guidance for Police and Medical Officers of Health

When do you need to report?

You must report to the committee within 15 working days of receiving a copy of the application if you have matters in opposition.

 

Your report is important

Your report to the DLC is an important part of the application process.  It provides crucial information for the DLC to consider in its decision making. DLC members cannot use their own knowledge in deciding an application (except that gathered during a site visit). They can only make decisions based on the evidence and submissions they receive. 

 

How detailed should your report be?

Given the 15-day timeframe you may not always be able to provide a comprehensive and detailed report to the DLC. If you are pressed for time, you should at least put forward your key concerns (matters in opposition). Drafting a short report to the DLC outlining your matters in opposition is preferable to attempting a detailed report, missing the deadline, and failing to register your concerns with the committee.

If you have time and want to draft a detailed and thorough report, then do so.  There are several good reasons to do this.

If the DLC decides to deal with the application ‘on the papers’ (without a hearing), your report must put forward the whole case you wish to make.

If the DLC calls a hearing, your report needs to contain enough information for the applicant to understand the issues they must address at a hearing.  You may also be confined to the matters raised in your report: you may not be able to introduce new points. Finally, providing a comprehensive report you will reduce the work you need to do for the hearing. 

 

What should your report cover?

At a minimum your report should:

  • indicate your general position on the application (eg, no matters in opposition, or matters in opposition)
  • identify the specific provisions in the Act that you are relying on (eg s105(1)(h))
  • explain how those considerations are relevant in this case. In explaining this, it is recommended that you reflect the language of the particular provisions you are relying upon as closely as possible. This will help ensure that you focus on permitted grounds of opposition (eg: This application is for the licensing of premises that would be located in an alcohol ban area. Granting it would present a clear risk that alcohol sold from the proposed premises would be consumed in breach of that ban. This would compromise good order within the locality. The Medical Officer of Health considers that this is likely and that the effects of this would be more than minor.).

If you have time, the report could also include:

  • an outline of the evidence you intend to provide to support your position
  • a conclusion – this should follow logically from the analysis. Remember, the conclusion is yours, the DLC is not bound by it. If the case is strong that will follow anyway
  • general reporting – this includes observations of the premises and discussions with the licensee, manager or other relevant persons and other information sources such as Controlled Purchase Operations etc.
  • recommendation – the DLC will evaluate any recommendation in the context of all the information and arguments that have been presented to it. 

Your position can be fleshed out in more detail in briefs of evidence and other material prepared for the hearing, should the matter proceed to hearing.

 

Templates for your report

Many organisations have templates that guide you through your report writing. Check if your organisation has a reporting template that you should use. 

The Toolbox contains a Reporting and hearing preparation template, a Police report template and a Medical Officer of Health report template.

Engagement with the applicant

Once aware of your concerns, an applicant might decide to amend its application. Ideally, an applicant will have engaged with the reporting agencies before filing an application. Where prior engagement has not occurred, it can occur after application. In these cases, where your report raises matters in opposition, this can provide a basis for future engagement. To that end, you might wish to add comment along the following lines:

The applicant’s application was filed without prior engagement with the Medical Officer of Health. However, the Medical Officer of Health remains open to engagement with the applicant in relation to any of the matters raised in opposition in this report.

An applicant’s prospects of successfully arguing breach of natural justice will be significantly reduced if it has not taken up an invitation to engage with the reporting agencies on matters raised in opposition.

 

2.2.2  Decisions on applications

When the application, all reports from the statutory agencies, and any public objections have been lodged, the secretary of the DLC will send these materials to the DLC for it to consider and issue a decision.

One of two things will happen:

 

1. The DLC makes a decision ‘on the papers’

The DLC can make a decision without a hearing (‘on the papers’). The chair of the DLC will make the decision. The only exception to this is for an application is for a temporary authority which has to be considered by a full DLC.

 

2. The DLC holds a hearing

A hearing can happen for several reasons:

  • The Act says that a hearing must be held if there are any public objections (unless the objections are vexatious or the objectors do not require a hearing).
  • A hearing may be held if there is any opposition from a reporting agency to a licence application.
  • If the DLC is thinking of declining an application, or if it wants to impose conditions outside of those the applicant has applied for, it may arrange a hearing to give parties a chance to have their say.

You will have at least ten days’ notice of a hearing. 

If you oppose the application you will need to prepare for, and attend, the hearing.

Even if you do not oppose, and the public hearing results from opposition from other reporting agencies, or from public objection, you should attend because the DLC may find it helpful for you to answer questions.

Where there is a hearing, a decision will be made following the hearing.  The DLC may decide to decline the application, or approve it with conditions.

Toolbox

Reporting and hearing preparation template
Police report template
Medical Officer of Health report template
Inspector’s report template

 

Step 2 – Report writing

Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 references

The SSAA references for Step 2 are the same as for Step 1.

99        Applications to be made to licensing committee               

100     Form of application        

101     Notification requirements          

102     Objections to applications           

103     Police, Medical Officer of Health, and inspector must inquire
           into applications   

104     Who decides application for licence

105      Criteria for issue of licences

106      Considering effects of issue or renewal of licence on amenity and good order of locality

127     Application for renewal of licence

128     Objections to renewal

129     Police, Medical Officer of Health, and inspector must inquire into applications

131      Criteria for renewal

136      Temporary authorities: on-licences and off-licences

137     Filing of applications (special licences)

139      Notification requirements (special licences)

140      Objections to applications (special licences)

141      Inquiry into applications by Police, inspector and Medical Officer of Health (special licence)

142      Criteria for issue of special licences

220      Reports (manager’s certificates)

222      Criteria for manager’s certificates