The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.
Chief Constables are able to revoke a Shotgun or Firearms Licence based on decisions that require little evidence, little or no investigation and without looking at both sides of the story. Some see this as character assassination without regard to process. For many the loss of their certificate can have a substantial effect on their private lives, their livelihood and social lives. For some it is simply a hobby that they do on weekends with friends; but still important.
- Firearms Licence Appeal Process
Should the Chief Constable, in the guise of a delegated officer within the firearms department for the local force, conclude that a person poses a danger to the public or the peace or is otherwise unfit to hold a shotgun or firearms licence then a letter of revocation will follow. The recipient has 21 days from receipt of the notice to serve an appeal notice.
The appeal notice is served on the local Crown Court and the Chief Constable. Once received, a listing officer at the Crown Court will list the appeal for a mention hearing.
At the mention hearing the Crown Court will make directions for the Chief Constable to serve a bundle of evidence upon which the decision is based. This will give the appellant an opportunity to address the grounds for dismissal and serve a bundle of evidence of their own.
Both parties will submit a brief skeleton, argument setting out the law that the court has to follow and often the court will make directions that a joint bundle is to be served by both parties.
Appeals commonly take no more than one day. A Crown Court Judge will sit with two lay magistrates and hear the evidence from both the Chief Constable and the Appellant.
It is important to note that whilst listed as an appeal it is not to be considered a review of the Chief Constable’s decision. The case is to be considered on its own merits. The Crown Court listens to the evidence from both those representing the Chief Constable and those representing the appellant. In essence the Court will sit as if it is the Chief Constable. Of significance is the fact that the court can hear evidence that was not put before the Chief Constable when the original decision was made to revoke.
The rules of criminal evidence which are particularly strict do not apply to such appeals. The matter is to be properly considered a licencing hearing and the rules of hearsay are significantly relaxed.
Accordingly, the appeal is a real opportunity for those who believe that they can be trusted with their licences to provide additional evidence in the form of statements and references from others attesting to their general character, trustworthiness and attitudes to safety. There may also be an opportunity to demonstrate that the matters relied upon by the Chief Constable were false, inaccurate or otherwise exaggerated. In some cases Stone King LLP will commission an independent expert to risk assess the appellant to provide demonstrable evidence to the Court that the risk is not such that the Licence should be revoked.
At Stone King LLP we take a three-stage approach:
- Initial consultation
- Service of appeal and submissions
- The appeal.
- Initial Consultation
This modestly priced initial consultation gives us an opportunity to give you preliminary advice on the appeal process. You will have an opportunity to discuss with us the revocation letter and the basis for revocation and most particularly why the decision was incorrect or flawed. As part of this consultation we will give you a preliminary view on your prospects of success and an estimate of costs. It is important to note that the courts rarely grant costs against a Chief Constable and as a result you alone will be responsible for your costs.
- Service of Appeal and Submissions
Following on from the initial consultation and subject to your further instructions we will then serve the appeal notice on the Court and Chief Constable. We will also begin taking further instructions and collating further evidence for the appellant’s bundle. In many cases we will have an opportunity to make submissions to the Chief Constable asking them to review the original decision on the basis of new supporting evidence. If this succeeds then that will be the end of the matter and your licence will be returned.
- Appealing Revoked Firearm Licence
Prior to the appeal we will be proactive in taking evidence from you and your witnesses. We will secure any reports that may be required and we will prepare bundles of your evidence for disclosure on the Chief Constable and the Court. Finally, we will serve a skeleton argument setting out the law and how it should be interpreted by the Court in favour of your case.
We are able to conduct the initial consultation over a video link or in person. Should you wish to know more then please contact the Nicholas Wragg, email and phone.
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