Regulatory Panel Reform: Consultation Response
Proposal 2: Changes to the ‘Scheme of Delegation of licensing and regulatory decisions
Consultation question 5
Do you agree with the proposed changes to the ‘Scheme of Delegation of licensing and regulatory decisions in respect of gambling’?
The majority of respondents disagreed with the proposal. Almost all of the respondents who disagreed with the proposal provided comments to set out their concerns. Respondents opposed to the proposal noted the following concerns:
- adjudicators would not qualify as employees of the Commission and therefore would not be able to sit on Panels
- proposals to reduce the quorum of panels are not logical in light of the stated rationale that cases are becoming ‘increasingly legalistic and complex’. Most respondents noted that this would suggest to them an increased quorum rather than a reduced one
- a Panel of one member (as proposed for Personal Licence cases) does not fit the definition of a Panel
- a Panel with two members, with the Chair having the casting vote would effectively be a Panel of one if there were disagreement.
With specific reference to Personal Licence cases, respondents broadly welcomed a change to the current process where an Executive Director can review a ‘minded to’ recommendation by a fellow Executive Director.
Several respondents acknowledged that while there are cases where it would be desirable to exclude an individual from the industry through Personal Licence hearings, decisions about Personal Licences have significant impacts on careers and reputations and should not be taken by one individual.
One respondent suggested that the scheme of delegations is amended to enable licensees to request a Panel hearing in cases where a regulatory settlement is proposed. It was requested that a full process for regulatory settlements should be published by the Commission.
Several respondents agreed with the proposal, noting the need for people with relevant experience to be included in the Panel and requesting further details on the appeals process. Two respondents indicated they agreed to the proposed changes with the exception of the use of Adjudicators.
Concerns were raised that Adjudicators would not be Commission employees. We confirm that the Adjudicators would be employees of the Commission, and therefore fall within the statutory framework of delegation in Schedule 4 of the Gambling Act 2005. We see no legal or practical difficulty in employing Adjudicators for this specific function.
We do not consider that there is any legal requirement for the quorum of a Panel to be set at a minimum of three, and note the current quorum for a Panel dealing with operator licenses is two Commissioners. In light of concerns raised in the consultation, we intend to amend our proposed quorum provision to a minimum of one Commissioner and one Adjudicator for matters relating to an operating licence, with an expressly stated proviso that the Panel will normally comprise two Commissioners and one Adjudicator. This being the normal position provides flexibility to address situations where one Commissioner becomes unavailable at short notice, but seeks to preserve the range of skills and experience Commissioners can bring to Panels, as well as maintaining direct Commissioner awareness of the work of Panels. We note that this also closely mirrors the position before the Tribunal (and indeed other Tribunals), whereby some hearings are determined by a Judge alone, some are determined by a Judge sitting with two lay members, and it is possible in some cases for a Tribunal to consist of one Judge and one lay member. We believe this strikes an appropriate balance in the circumstances.
In keeping with the status of the Adjudicator as the legally qualified member of the Panel, they will act as Chair for each meeting of the Regulatory Panel that they attend. This is clarified in the amended guidance and will be part of the AGF.
We also maintain that single Adjudicator hearings are a suitable mechanism to manage personal licence matters, which are currently heard by a single Executive Director. The AGF will also apply to these hearings, including the proviso that the legal position of the Adjudicator will be made available and representations can be made. We note that some respondents viewed a single Adjudicator as more likely to be impartial than an Executive Director.
We intend to continue with our proposal to enable Panels to occasionally give a steer on regulatory settlement proposals and or indication of an appropriate figure for a financial penalty at the request of Commission staff. We have no plans to take forward the suggestion that Panels should be required to decide on all regulatory settlements or financial penalties. We note that licensees have the option to request a Panel hearing where regulatory settlement offers have been rejected or where they disagree with the Commission’s proposed sanction.
Details of the process for appealing regulatory decisions (opens in new tab) made by the Gambling Commission can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Proposal 1: Use of adjudicators on regulatory panels Next section
Proposal 3: Changes to the Regulatory decisions: procedures and guidance for regulatory hearings
Last updated: 21 July 2021
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