Progress on change to licensing laws in Northern Ireland

September 20, 2016

Yesterday,  Communities Minister Paul Givan introduced a liquor licensing Bill in the Assembly. This follows a public consultation in 2012 to garner public opinion on proposed changes to the laws regulating the sale of alcohol in Northern Ireland. The consultation attracted over 2,500 responses from a wide range of stakeholders including those who run or work in pubs, registered clubs, supermarkets or other outlets selling alcohol, trade associations, criminal justice and health workers and the general public. The consultation sought views on measures aimed at tackling practices which could contribute to alcohol misuse and also measures designed to support the hospitality and tourism sectors.

The introduction of a Bill to the Assembly is the first formal stage in the process to reform the law on the sale of alcoholic drinks in Northern Ireland.

The Bill the Minister introduced includes:-

•           Restrictions on advertising of alcoholic drinks in supermarkets and off-sales;

•           Introduction of occasional additional late opening for certain licensed premises;

•           Extension of “drinking-up” time;

•           Minor change to Easter opening hours;

•           Alignment of alcohol and entertainment licences in licensed premises allowed late opening; and

•           Changes in relation to children on licensed premises and registered clubs.

The Bill will have to go through a lengthy process of scrutiny before it has completed its passage through the assembly and, according to the Minister, “any changes to the law are unlikely to take effect until the middle of next year.”

This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor. If you require any further advice in respect of liquor licensing, please contact Peter Lockhart, Solicitor, Cleaver Fulton Rankin (DD 028 9027 1366).