Residents living in the locality of the Royal Albert Hall have, with our help, succeeded in their claim to the High Court for an Order to quash the grant of a licence for boxing and wrestling events to be held at the venue. We represented those local residents, of flats at Albert Court, in Prince Consort Road, South Kensington, in their Application to the High Court for Judicial Review of the decision by Westminster City Council to vary the licence governing the use of the Royal Albert Hall and which variation allowed boxing and wrestling and also extended the venue's opening hours.
That variation paved the way for the return of boxing and wrestling to the Royal Albert Hall for the first time in around 10 years. However, the Residents of Albert Court complained that the Westminster City Council had failed to provide them with notification of that proposed variation. The Council had sent out letters notifying nearby Residents of the proposed changes: About 100 nearby Residents were notified, having been selected by the Council's computer programme, but no letters were sent to Albert Court Residents.
The result of this computerised notification process was that Residents who lived further away from the Royal Albert Hall than those at Albert Court were notified. Furthermore, one notification letter was sent to a "bus stop opposite 1 Kensington Gore" and another was sent to an address in Brixton.
Mr Justice McCombe, who heard this case, concluded that the Council had "allowed its computer programme to dictate the notification process" and that "the process was simply dictated mindlessly by the database, even though its results can be seen to be bizarre on the briefest glance". In quashing the Council's decision to grant a variation to the Royal Albert Hall's Licence, the Judge ruled that "in the end, I take the view that what happened here was so bad as to be irrational and therefore unlawful".
This decision has significant implications on how a Licensing Authority must deal with notification of any applications to grant or vary a premises licence.