A Glasgow lap-dancing bar owned by Brightcrew Ltd, has won a landmark legal battle that could see the power of Scotland’s Licensing Boards dramatically eroded.

Two years ago Glasgow City Licensing Board refused a licence to the Spearmint Rhino club in Drury Street, because they said it flouted its ‘no nudity’ policy. Two dancers had apparently stripped naked in front of patrons. The board’s ruling linked the code on nudity to the granting of licences for adult entertainment licences or “premises licences”  and that is what was successfully challenged through the courts, by Brightcrew. They argued that the law related only to the sale of alcohol and could not be used to deal with other issues. Now one of Scotland licensing lawyers, Stephen McGowan, a Director of Licensing and Gambling at Lindsays, has said that this ruling could have implications for licensing boards around the country.

He says “The real exposition here is a much wider issue for licensing boards in terms of what matters they can seek to control through their policy; and in what conditions they can attach to a licence, which are not expressly linked to the sale of alcohol.”

He suggests that the case could represent a dramatic erosion of the powers of Scottish licensing boards. Until now, it has been the case that licensing boards have put controls in place for matters other than the sale of alcohol, where those matters occur on a licensed premises, including adult entertainment, but also other activities.

Says McGowan, “If the decision stands, it will require licensing boards to rethink their approach to the licensing objectives entirely; as well as review their policy statements to ensure that their “essential function”, which is the control of the sale of alcohol is given primacy, with no attempts at regulating other matters or activities which, while they may occur on licensed premises, are unconnected to the sale of alcohol”. A spokesman for the licensing board said:“We are considering the terms of the decision”


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