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If one wishes to challenge a decision of a licensing authority there are three main options to consider.  These are:

  • appeal to the Magistrates Court
  • judicial review
  • complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

If an application is refused for any reason, the applicant will be entitled to appeal against the decision at a magistrate's court within 21 days of the decision.

Similarly, if the application is granted despite a representation, the objector is entitled to appeal against the council's decision.

Magistrates Court

If a person is dissatisfied with the decision of the Magistrates' Court on appeal, there is no further right of appeal to Crown Court.

On appeal a Magistrates' Court may:

  • dismiss the appeal
  • substitute for the decision appealed against another decision which could have been made by the licensing authority
  • remit the case to the licensing authority to dispose of it in accordance with the direction of the court
  • may make such order as to costs as it thinks fit.

Judicial Review

This is the mechanism by which the High Court exercises a supervisory jurisdiction over administrative decisions. It involves an examination of the way in which a decision was reached rather than the merits of the decision. There are three principal grounds for basing a challenge:

  • procedural impropriety
  • decision maker has failed to understand the law regulating his decision and applied it correctly; irrationality, meaning 'Wednesbury unreasonableness' (must bring all material matters into account and leave all extraneous matters out of account).
  • a decision so outrageous that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question to be decided could have arrived at it.


A complaint to the ombudsman is another possibility that may be considered where other remedies are not appropriate. The Local Government Ombudsman are appointed by the Commission for Local Administration in England to investigate complaints of injustice arising from maladministration (is not defined but is accepted to include bias, neglect, inattention, delay, incompetence, ineptitude, perversity, turpitude and so on) by local authorities. The ombudsman will investigate a complaint and, if he finds that maladministration has occurred, will issue a report and may recommend a payment of compensation.


For more information contact Licensing Unit by telephone: Licensing Services - 01634 337107 or 337108 / Enforcement - 01634 337112 or 337106 or by email: licensing@medway.gov.uk

Write to: Licensing Unit, Medway Council, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TR