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Bexhill Restaurateur loses Judicial Review

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Bexhill Restaurateur loses Judicial Review 6th March 2019

A Bexhill restaurateur, Mr Saleh Uddin, has failed in his High Court application to judicially review the decision of Rother District Council to revoke his premises licence and District Judge Szagun’s subsequent decision to summarily dismiss his appeal to Hastings Magistrates’ Court following his failure to comply with court directions.

This is believed to be only the second instance of the High Court considering the powers of the magistrates’ court following non-compliance with court directions in an appeal under the Licensing Act 2003.

The appeal followed the revocation of Mr Uddin’s premises licence relating to the Chilli Tree restaurant in Bexhill on Sea following allegations that he had employed illegal workers and children without the necessary employment licence. Subsequently, allegations were made that Mr Uddin had behaved inappropriately towards a 15 year old female employee.

The original decision by District Judge Szagun was reported on the Institute of Licensing website on 30 September 2018 here.

In separate, but related, proceedings Mr Uddin’s taxi licences were also revoked by Rother District Council on the same facts and his appeals dismissed at Hastings Magistrates’ Court on 21 January 2019. The taxi appeals were reported by the Institute of Licensing here. The taxi decision is now being appealed further to the Crown Court.

In refusing Mr Uddin permission to judicially review the decisions of Rother DC and DJ Szagun in relation to the premises licence, Mr Justice Mostyn ruled that the application was “totally without merit”. Mostyn J stated in his written Order:

“1. This is a manifestly abusive application. Although the claimant challenges the decision made by the defendant on 1 June 2018 that decision was superseded by the decision of District Judge Szagun on 26 September 2018 summarily to dismiss the appeal on the ground that there had been a flagrant failure by the claimant to comply with the appeal court’s case management directions. Although the claimant seeks to challenge the district judges’ decision he does not cite the Hastings Magistrates Court as a defendant. This is a fundamental flaw.

2. The decision of the defendant [Rother District Council] was well-reasoned and unlikely to be capable of challenge. Therefore, the court required the claimant to specify the legal and factual basis for his appeal by 29 August 2018 and to file all his evidence by 12 September 2018. This he failed to do. The defendant therefore applied for a debarring order. This was listed for 26 September 2018. Still the claimant failed to comply with the directions and failed to furnish any good reason for his default at the hearing. It became plain that the claimant was using the appeal process as a filibuster to allow him to continue selling alcohol. A debarring order (i.e. an order summarily dismissing the appeal) was therefore inevitable. ln Prince Abdulaziz v Apex Global Management Ltd & Anor [2014] UKSC 64, [2014] 1 WLR 4495, the Supreme Court upheld a debarring order made for failure to comply with a disclosure order. It was not disproportionate in that case to make the debarring order where the defendant persisted in failing to make simple disclosure and had showed that he had no intention to do so. So here.

3. Further, the claim was made on 11 February 2019 and so is well out of time and no good reason for the delay has been furnished.

4. Finally, it was an abuse for the claimant to demand consideration by the
immediates judge. There was no good reason for this case to jump a queue of cases patiently awaiting determination.”

Additionally, Mostyn J made an order under CPR 54.12(7) that Mr Uddin could not request a re-consideration of the refusal of permission at an oral hearing. Mr Uddin was ordered to pay the Council’s costs.
Andy Eaton FIOL acted for Rother District Council, advised by Gary Grant and Leo Charalambides of Francis Taylor Building.

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