Duties under the Licensing Act 2003 – Recent prosecutions

The licensing objective of ‘public safety’ requires licence holders to ensure the safety of those using their premises as part of the duties under the Licensing Act 2003. This includes ensuring the safety of customers when leaving the premises and ensuring the presence of trained first aiders (and giving such aid where required).

In this example a nightclub ejected a drunk female student from their premises after she collapsed; she was subsequently lured into a van and driven to an industrial estate, where she was raped and sexually assaulted.

The perpetrators of the rape were found guilty.  However, the Judge criticised the nightclub accusing it of “abandoning” a young women on the street. The Court had heard how the nightclub had continued to serve drinks to students who have had far more than enough to drink but, as the Judge said, “they fail to take responsibility for the students, they removed (her) after she collapsed inside”.

Whilst the hospitality industry may find it difficult to manage intoxicated individuals who have left their premises, employers may have similar obligations to ensure employees get home safely, following a works ‘do’, for example, or if an employee is taken ill at work.   An employer will need to make an assessment to determine if it is safe for the employee to drive home or to go home on their own/by public transport/taxi or depending upon the circumstances it might be to ask the employee if a friend or relative could come and pick them up, or explore if a colleague could arrange to take them. 

What this case highlights is the need for employers to be mindful of their duty of care to employees, client/customers/patients and/or visitors.  Documented risk assessments, training records, method statements, combined with good management should hopefully minimise the risk of such awful incidents occurring which in turn reduces the risk of prosecution and/or other legal action

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