The Licensing (Northern Ireland) Order 1996
Over 1,800 holders of a liquor licence in Northern Ireland must renew their licence by the 30th September 2022 deadline. The Licensing (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 states that every five years, bars, off-licences, hotels and restaurants must renew their licence and that time is upon us once again.
A liquor licence is one of the most important and valuable assets owned by those in the hospitality sector that sell alcohol. In fact, without it they cannot legally conduct their business.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic shook the world, our hospitality sector contributed £2billion annually to the local economy and was the fourth largest private sector employer, according to Hospitality Ulster CEO, Colin Neill. Now that pandemic restrictions have been lifted for the first time in two years, it is time to rebuild. It is important that our hospitality leaders bounce back without unnecessary self-imposed restriction such as neglecting to renew their liquor licence.
In the past, some well-known venues that grace our city high streets and rural towns have failed to renew on time and either ran afoul of the law or were obliged to shut their doors until Court orders were granted.
Renew your liquor licence early
Every five years, The Department of Health and Social Services will publish a notice for the upcoming renewal deadline due date in two national newspapers. As per the Order, it is recommended that renewals take place no less than three weeks before the deadline; however, our licensing solicitors would suggest doing so much further in advance.
Katie Campbell, of McCartan Turkington Breen, advises, “early preparation allows time for any issues that arise to be addressed prior to renewal and avoids the additional financial burden of an application out of time.”
Failure to renew a liquor licence on time is not without consequences and often, they are much more than a slap on the wrist. Although the Department of Communities is responsible for the legislation surrounding liquor licensing, it is the PSNI that is responsible for its enforcement.
Officers may, at any time, request to inspect a licence, the licensing register or the court-approved licensing plans. If the renewal date is missed without good reason, the premises may be forced to close immediately and remain closed until the licence can be renewed. If the renewal date is missed by more than twelve months, licensees must apply for a new grant of the licence at an even greater cost. As you can imagine, this could be devasting for those in our hospitality trade, including employees.
Speak with a liquor licensing specialist solicitor
If you are subject to the licence renewal deadline and need legal advice, we can help. Visit Licensing Law to learn more about our services or contact us for a complimentary, no-commitment initial consultation.