The company refused to disclose the identity of its shareholders, when it applied for an alcohol license. The magistrates refused a licence it on the basis that the information was needed to assess the fitness of the company to hold the licence. The Crown Court refused the licence, but it was then granted on appeal. The police appealed.
Held: The shares were held through companies in such a way that the identity of the shareholders was not publicly ascertainable, and the court could not be sure that those controlling the company were appropriate. The appeal was refused. There was no extraneous reason to doubt the fitness of the proposed licensee. The term ‘a fit and proper person’ is to be construed according to the context. Questions about the eventual ownership of the owner were a distraction from the proposed licensee’s own fitness.
Lord Bingham of Cornhill, Lord Mustill, Lord Hutton, Lord Millett and Lord Rodger of Earlsferry
Times 21-Jun-2002, Times 01-Aug-2002,  UKHL 24, (2003) 167 JPN 31,  BCC 697,  NPC 85,  1 WLR 1954,  4 All ER 131, (2003) 167 JP 6
England and Wales
Company, Licensing, Magistrates
Updated: 27 June 2022; Ref: scu.174014