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Licence or certificate?

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Licence or certificate?

Postby shootist » Mon Oct 09, 2017 6:24 pm

It can often be the case that terms are used incorrectly, or are given the wrong meanings in a general discussion. The term 'Firearms Licence' is often used when the document is in fact titles as a 'Firearms Certificate'.

My question is, does the terminology in this case matter? Does the use of the word 'certificate' imply something different than if it was instead a 'licence'? Given the way the law seems to work, I suspect that it could be an important difference. Could those who know these things offer an informed opinion please?
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Re: Licence or certificate?

Postby Maz JP » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:44 pm

Interesting.

I'm no expert, but in layman terms I always assumed that a licence allowed you to do something and a certificate qualified you to be licensed.

If you see what I mean.
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Re: Licence or certificate?

Postby atticus » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:45 pm

What is certified by such a certificate?
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Re: Licence or certificate?

Postby shootist » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:45 pm

atticus wrote:What is certified by such a certificate?


That the named person can possess certain firearms and ammunition for certain purposes defined on the certificate, usually. It also has provision for details of acquisition and disposal of firearms and acquisition of ammunition to be recorded. It contains a number of conditions applying to the individual concerned that failing to comply with would be a criminal offence. Ammunition collectors can generally acquire considerable quantities of ammunition but no firearm. Some firearms collectors can acquire some firearms but no ammunition. The control and issue of the certificates at customer facing levels are in many cases conducted by people who know bugger all about firearms or their use and not much more about firearms law. I kid you not.
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Re: Licence or certificate?

Postby shootist » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:53 pm

Maz JP wrote:Interesting.

I'm no expert, but in layman terms I always assumed that a licence allowed you to do something and a certificate qualified you to be licensed.

If you see what I mean.


Sounds fairly good to me, but for the fact that a certificate of insurance for a car is proof that an insurance policy is in force, basically. I feel sure that given the importance of the document and fear the subject can arouse, that the choice of the word used will be significant. Particularly that the FAC certifies the named person is legally allowed to own and use firearms. I suspect that the use of the word 'licence' would suggest a more restrictive document. I suspect that in some dusty legal tome buried somewhere in the likes of the Old Bailey, the issue is defined. Hopefully the knowledgeable gurus here will dig it out if they can spare a minute.
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Re: Licence or certificate?

Postby atticus » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:03 am

A licence is a permission to do something, eg drive, sell alcohol. That permission may be subject to conditions.

Shooter has said that a firearms certificate certifies that the holder is permitted to own and use firearms. To that extent there appears to be no difference. Do those certificates specify any conditions attached to the permission?
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Re: Licence or certificate?

Postby shootist » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:23 am

I did mention that the licence contains conditions, but to clarify, there are a number of standard conditions, such as notifying a change of address, the use to which the firearms may be put, E.G. target shooting, hunting, collection, security of the firearms, signing the FAC on receipt. There has been one case where an FAC holder had forgotten to sign his certificate on receipt and some time after returned it to vary the number of firearms he could hold. It was noticed that he had not signed it and his licence was revoked just for that reason alone. I imagine that the permanent revocation of a driving licence because someone had forgotten to sign it (in the days when one had to) would not be thought acceptable by the public at large.
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Re: Licence or certificate?

Postby atticus » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:28 am

A photo driving licence already has the holder's signature.

But if a condition of a permission is signature of the document which confirms it, then that condition should be complied with.
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Re: Licence or certificate?

Postby shootist » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:11 pm

atticus wrote:A photo driving licence already has the holder's signature.


Which is why I said "(in the days when one had to)"

atticus wrote:But if a condition of a permission is signature of the document which confirms it, then that condition should be complied with.


Of course they should. My comments were made on the basis that a revocation of such a licence on what was probably a permanent basis with possible considerable financial consequences seems somewhat excessive. I used the comparison with someone suffering the probable permanent loss of their driving licence as a comparison. I believe there may still be a number of people with the old type driving licence, some of who could fall foul of that offence.
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Re: Licence or certificate?

Postby atticus » Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:50 pm

The original question was whether it makes a difference if something is called a licence or a certificate. I think I have shown that my approach, which comes from my own training and experience, is to consider the effect of the document in question. In the instances described, there appears to be no distinction that can be made. As so very often, what is important is the substance and not the form.
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