LONG AWAITED LIQUOR LICENSING BILL INTRODUCED AT NI ASSEMBLY
20 October 2020
Hospitality Ulster has led the campaign for the modernisation of our licensing laws for years, and although this Bill is very welcome, it is subject to change- so more work is needed to ensure that it is enhanced and not diluted.
It is the expectation that the amendments (if agreed) will commence from October 2021 (subject to receiving Royal Assent) with the exception of the Easter Hours Clause which will be in place for Easter 2021.
What does the new Licensing Bill include:
- Removal of all additional restrictions at Easter completely.
- Further additional hours – licensee can apply to court for a 2:00am late licence up to 104 nights. Courts can amend or revoke this.
- Increase of drinking up time to 1 hour from 30 mins.
- Alignment of closing time for liquor licensing/entertainment (3:00am with 2 & 3 above)
- Police authorisation for additional hours – increase from 20 occasions to 85
- Power for Department to designate a major event and vary licensing restrictions
- Licensed racetrack to be allowed to sell on Sundays from 12:00pm to 10.30pm.
- New category of licence for local producers. They will be able to sell own products as off-sales and off premises (sample can be provided on site) at certain events such as food and drink fairs.
- Off licence selling of alcohol over the phone - where a sale takes place, the place of dispatch must be licensed.
- Removal of the requirement for children’s certificate – won’t have to apply to court as it will become part of the existing licence.
- Underage functions. Ability for court to decide that a certain part of a building is suitable for holding underage functions. Alcohol dispensers must be removed and any over 18s will not be allowed to consume alcohol.
- Private Functions – under 18s will be allowed to remain on premises after 9.30pm if public are not allowed access; parent/guardian are on site; and if a main meal is served.
- Delivery of intoxicated liquor to young people – amends the order to make it an offence to deliver to anyone under the age of 18.
- Prohibition on self-service and sale by vending machines.
- Prohibition of loyalty schemes for purchase of alcohol.
- Occasional licences – District Commander can go to the court and seek additional restrictions are placed on a licence.
- Code of practice. Department will have power to approve a code for sale of alcohol and the court must be satisfied that a licence holder is aware of responsibilities and is compliant.