Philip Kolvin QC: Licensing Lawyer Legal advice & representation

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Alcohol Entertainment & Late Night Refreshment


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This work falls under the Licensing Act 2003.

Philip is a highly experienced expert in the Licensing Act 2003, and has worked across the nation for industry clients and public authorities.

His industry clients include national supermarket and nightclub chains and trade associations through to individual shop owners.

His public authority clients include a high proportion of English local authorities, the Security Industry Authority, Public Health England and the Chief Constable of Lancashire.

Case studies:



Philip acted for a large nightclub and lap dancing venue in the cumulative impact area of York. The police were appealing against the grant of an extended licence to 5 a.m. Philip successfully defended the appeal. The Police were ordered to pay £34,000 costs to his client.

Philip acted for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, successfully resisting an appeal by the well-known nightclub “Public”. He also acted for the London Borough of Camden, defeating an appeal by Den and Jet Black, near to the British Museum. In both cases, the appeals resulted in closure of the clubs.

The main nightclub operators Luminar Leisure instructed Philip to appeal against the revocation of Oceana nightclub in Kingston, one of the largest in the country, following a fatal stabbing. After an intensive litigation campaign, the local authority and police compromised the case on terms which enabled the club to continue operating successfully.

Philip was instructed by local businesses to appeal against a licence for the largest nightclub in the UK at Mayfield Depot in Manchester. Before the case came to court, the scheme collapsed.

A north western nightclub had found its licence revoked two weeks previously following a series of gangland incidents. Although Philip’s clients had nothing to do with the previous management, the police resisted their application for a new licence on the basis of the location and reputation of the premises. Philip visited the city the night before the hearing and prepared the case with the clients, before obtaining a grant of a new licence the following day, just a fortnight after the revocation of the old.

Police obtained a suspension of the licence of a nightclub in summary review proceedings. The licensee came to Philip on a direct access basis. Philip advised that the suspension was not effective pending an appeal against the decision. The licensee re-opened the club. The Police, relying on national guidance, disagreed and sought an order to close the nightclub. The magistrates court held that the guidance was unlawful and the Police were not entitled to a closure order.

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for all your efforts in getting us to a successful conclusion at the appeal. Getting you on board was perhaps the defining moment. I have many good licensing lawyer friends and they all called me to say we had the right man for the job.

Nightclub Chief Executive


Working for the independent brewers, Brewdog, Philip obtained a licence on appeal in Cloth Fair in Leeds, in the heart of the City Council’s cumulative impact area.

Philip was asked to work for a beautiful City of London pub, whose outside drinkers had incurred the wrath of local residents and businesses, leading to a review which sought the banning of outside drinking. Philip advised on strategy and presentation, and was able to reach a settlement which imposed no time, spatial or numbers restraints on outside drinking.

Philip acted for a well-known brewery which had been convicted of an offence because of a breach of licence by its tenant. The magistrates’ court had found that the brewery was automatically liable. Philip advised that this was wrong, and persuaded the High Court that breweries are not directly liable for the offences of their tenants. This is now a leading authority in licensing law.

An armed police unit quelled a riot at a South Wales pub with tasers, the latest in a long line of violent and drug-related incidents. Philip was called in to handle the appeal after the premises had been closed by the licensing authority on police advice. Philip persuaded the Justices to permit the premises to re-open following a period of suspension.

Acting on Home Office guidance, police served closure notices on a pub and then forced the pub to close immediately, threatening to arrest staff if the pub stayed open. Acting on a direct access basis, Philip advised that this conduct was unlawful, and represented the publican in High Court proceedings. The Home Office withdrew its guidance and admitted that it was wrong in crucial respects. The Home Office and the police paid the publican damages for loss of profits and also paid costs. This is probably the only case in which damages have been paid to a licensee for errors of this nature.

Having woken this morning and reflected on yesterday’s proceedings, I’d like to pass on my sincere thanks and appreciation for all the hard work, skill and intelligence that culminated in the outcome of the hearing.

Paul Harbottle, Group Commercial Director, Enterprise Inns



In a rare case, the Metropolitan Police started summary review proceedings against a major London casino and secured suspension of the licence as an interim steps.

Within 41 hours of being instructed, Philip secured an order lifting the interim steps. It was the first time that interim steps had ever been lifted in the borough concerned.

The client stated that he was “very impressed”!


Off-licences and supermarkets

Philip has succeeded in obtaining licences for Sainsbury’s in a cumulative impact area in Leicester, winning costs on appeal. Philip has also won a licence for Sainsbury’s on appeal in a cumulative impact area in Islington.

He has recently won a licence on appeal for an independent off-licence in a cumulative impact area in Ilford, and saved a licence following a third instance of selling contraband stock in the Midlands.


Music and rock festivals

Philip’s clients instructed him three months before their rock festival on the South Downs, which had attracted objections from a wide range of statutory authorities, including fire, highways, police and environmental health, as well as a large number of residents. Philip negotiated with the main objectors, persuading them to set up working parties to resolve their differences.

Although many issues remained, after an adjournment and a two-day hearing, Philip was able to persuade the Licensing Sub-Committee that it was safe to let the event proceed.

Philip is called upon to sit as legal advisor or simply to advise Licensing Committees in major applications. These have included the Hells Angels Bulldog Bash in Stratford, Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Maidstone and Glastonbury.


Late night refreshment

Philip first got into licensing through representing Macdonalds before licensing committees and magistrates, and even in the High Court. He has since been involved in many cases regarding restaurant and takeaway operators.

His recent clients have included the famous London restaurant the Chiltern Firehouse, and an internationally known restaurateur.


Licensing policy

Philip has advised more than 100 licensing authorities on their licensing policies. He formerly acted for Westminster City Council and helped them devise their early cumulative impact policies for Soho, Covent Garden and Edgware Road.

Since then, he has helped devise policies the length and breadth of the land and fended off challenges to policy in the High Court and Magistrates’ Court.


Early Morning Restriction Orders

Philip has advised the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers in its opposition to Early Morning Restriction Orders.

He also acted for the Chief Constable of Lancashire in a five day contested hearing before Blackpool Licensing Committee, which decided to establish a public-private partnership to guide the development of the night time economy in Blackpool.


Late night levy

Philip has advised industry opponents of the late night levy. He has also advised public authorities, including the City of London Corporation, which successfully introduced the levy, following a detailed re-consultation exercise.

An outstanding, well-prepared advocate at the top of his game. Proactive in his approach, he lives and breathes the case.

Chambers UK 2014