James Rankin

Call: 1983  
Practice areas:
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Practice Profile

With over thirty years' experience in licensing and regulatory work, preeminent licensing barrister James Rankin is ranked by Chambers and Partners Directory as a starred licensing junior. He is also named in the Chambers 100 UK Bar list of the top juniors. 

He appears up and down the country on behalf of applicants, and objectors and appellants from local authority decisions. A true ''independent'', he also represents the police and local authorities on reviews of licences and on appeals. 

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He recently obtained a licence for The Londoner Hotel; £500 million development of a luxury 350 bedroom hotel complete with 6 bars and restaurants and a nightclub in the heart of Central London and in the middle of Westminster City Council’s “stress area”. 

He successfully extended the premises licence for Petersham Nurseries against stiff local opposition. 

He has successfully applied for and objected to many Sexual Entertainment Venues throughout the country. 

He has been involved in the icensing of many outdoor music and recently won a licence for Matt’s BBQ, successfully fighting off High Court Challenge to the grant. He also recently successfully fought off a review by East Herts Constabulary in respect of The Wilkestock Festival. He obtained a licence for the WOW festival (capacity 18,000) in spite of concentrated local opposition.

James has extensive Betting and Gaming experience. He appeared on behalf of The Hippodrome in their successful appeal to licence their London casino premises. He advises on Internet gaming, together with lotteries and competitions and firearms regulation. He also advises on taxi regulation. 

He has been involved in many of the leading licensing cases involving judicial review of decisions by local authorities and magistrates’ courts. The LGA in Hemmings briefed him in The Supreme Court. 

His clients are high profile and varied. They include the major operators such as Wetherspoons, Youngs, Whitbreds and Greene King, together with the smaller operators. He has represented Aspinall's Casino, Ladbrokes, Corals, The Windmill, Stringfellows, The
Mayor of London, The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, The Chief Constables of
Northamptonshire, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall and The West Midlands. He has appeared for KenwoodHouse, and Garsington. 

  • Represented the Southbeats Festival 2019 in Sevenoaks, obtaining a licence for a three day event, with a capacity of 15,000 and a terminal hour of 2am against heavy opposition
  • Successfully appeared for The Metropolitan Police on the revocation of two high profile nightclubs in Kingston, Barcadia and Essence
  • Extreme Oyster: Appeared for Extreme Oyster in the landmark case on whether shadow licences can be granted to a landlord in order to protect himself against review of his tenant's licence. R (OTA) Extreme Oyster v Guildford Borough Council Admin Court 2013.
  • Appeared for the Metropolitan Police successfully resisting a judicial review challenging whether the interim step of suspension imposed on summary review continues pending determination of the appeal. R (OTA) 93 Feet East v London Borough of Tower Hamlets Admin Ct 2013.
  • Quintessentially: appeared for the concierge company on an appeal against a Westminster City Council decision to refuse a licence for the group's headquarters in Portland Place
  • Fire and Area nightclubs in Vauxhall Cross: successfully resisted an attempt by the Metropolitan Police to revoke their licences
  • Oceana Nightclub: appeared on behalf of The Metropolitan Police in their successful application to revoke the licence for Luminar Leisure's ''flagship'' premises in Kingston.
  • Altitude 360: successfully appeared on behalf of Hellman and Friedman who applied for a review of the nightclub's licence. The proceedings ended in revocation of the licence for a high profile premises.
  • The Windmill Theatre; successfully applied to extend nude table dancing until 3am on Sundays under the new Sex Encounter Venue (''SEV'') legislation.
  • Represented Home House on its successful appeal against Westminster City Council's restrictive policy on hours.
  • KVC Cars: a successful appeal against TfL's new policy in relation to operators of private hire vehicles (''PHVs'') requiring controllers to stand inside nightclub premises. Costs (£12,400) awarded against TfL.
  • Diamond Chauffeurs: a successful appeal under similar circumstances. Costs of £13,600 awarded against TfL.
  • Obtained the first fully-nude table dancing licence within Westminster for Peter Stringfellow
  • Appeared on behalf of The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police on his application to revoke James Hewitt's shotgun and firearms certificate

He has had more than twenty cases heard by the High Court. These include

  • R (Townlink Ltd) v Thames Magistrates' Court [2011] EWHC 898 Admin; powers of the magistrates’ court on appeal; adequacy of reasons.
  • R (Tower Hamlets LBC) v Lovebox Festivals [2012] EWHC 961: costs on appeal; lawfulness of award; quantum of award
  • R (South Northamptonshire Council) v Towcester Magistrates’ Court; Lawfulness of DCMS Guidance in relation to refusal of personal licence.           
  • R (Bushell and others) v Newcastle City Justices (House of Lords) Licensing Law and Human Rights; special removal of an old on licence; the relevance of planning to licensing applications; abuse of process; collateral actions; the circumstances in which an appeal to the House of Lords may be permitted to continue, even though a statute has been repealed
  • Westminster City Council v Fleury: can the Court of Appeal entertain an appeal against a decision of the Administrative Court on a case stated?
  • R (Brogan) v Metropolitan Police: were the procedures for granting extensions to licences Human Rights compliant?
  • R OTA Thompsett v Croydon Crown Court: justices' policy held to be Wednesbury unreasonable
  • R v Derby Justices ex parte Black: which should be heard first: revocation proceedings or criminal offences?
  • R v Inner London Crown Court ex parte Sitki: the leading case on legality of conditions on a licence

He lectures for The Institute of Licensing, IBC and CLT on a wide range of topics relating to licensing and regulation. He is also a regular at FTB's licensing updates and seminars.

  • Buckingham University LLB (hons)

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Latest from James
Nov' 23
New 4am Licence Granted to The Bottaccio Group in Camden

At a lengthy hearing before LB Camden’s Licensing Sub Committee James Rankin of Francis Taylor Building managed to secure a new 4am, 1200 capacity, premises licence for The Bottaccio Group who aim to establish a high-end events space located in Camden’s old Town Hall.

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Apr' 23
Nightclub Premises Licence Revoked Following Murder Inside Venue

Valesha’s Nightclub in Walsall has had its premises licence revoked following the murder of Akeem Francis-Kerr inside the venue shortly after 5am on 11 March 2023. 

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Sep' 19
Award Winning Night Club Loses Licence

Opium Nightclub, the winner of Luxury Lifestyle Awards in the category of Best Luxury Nightclub in London 2019, has lost its licence.

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Jun' 19
Southbeats Festival Granted New Licence

At a packed hearing in front of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee, SBE Ltd we’re granted a licence for The Southbeats Festival 2019.

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Back to Barristers

"James Rankin is an excellent licensing barrister. He can think quickly on his feet, is always on-point and persuades with real gravitas. He can turn a case with his powerful advocacy."

Chambers and Partners, 2024

"James is a very experienced, first-class barrister. He is very good with licensing committees, responsive and user-friendly."

Chambers and Partners, 2024

"His breadth of experience in licensing law is unparalleled and his advocacy is fine-tuned."

Chambers and Partners, 2024

"James is charm personified. His breadth of experience in licensing law is unparalleled."

Legal 500, 2024

"He is phenomenally bright and a very good advocate."

Chambers and Partners, 2023
Oct' 24
Licensing Update, Manchester

Registration over sandwich lunch from 1.00-2.00pm.  Seminar from 2.00 - 5.00pm.

The seminar will take place in person at Chamber Space, Elliot House, 151 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3WD.

Confirmed speakers: James Rankin, Gary Grant, Leo Charalambides, Charles Holland.

The full programme will be published in early autumn.