The European Court of Justice has ruled that Westminster Council was overcharging sex shops for licences, infringing on EU rules designed to promote service activities.The long-running case was brought by Simply Pleasure and others against Westminster city council, which charged nearly £30,000 for a one-year licence. This sum was made up of £2,700 for administration whilst the rest was used to fund the detection and prosecution of unauthorised sex shops or activities.
The sex shops had earlier won a victory in a UK judicial review, but Westminster decided to fight the decision, principally over the issue of whether it could charge the full fee at the time of application.
British judges then asked the EU court whether this was consistent with the EU services directive.
The EU court said the cost of making an application should not exceed the cost of the administration process, saying the aim of the services directive was to facilitate access to service activities.