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Following the first round of changes to Northern Ireland’s licensing legislation which were welcomed in October 2021, it is now time for the second round of reforms contained within the Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2021 (2021 Act), which are due to take effect from 6 April 2022.
The modernisation of Northern Ireland’s licensing legislation continues this year with the introduction of the following:
The 2021 Act gives the Department for Communities (DfC) the power to designate an event that will attract significant interest as a ‘major event’ and issue a ‘major event order’, allowing specified licensed premises or clubs to sell alcohol outside of the usual permitted hours. Such orders may apply to a specific place or premises, or areas in the vicinity of the place or premises.
For the first time in Northern Ireland, cinemas will be included as a place of public entertainment as defined in The Licensing (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 and eligible to be licensed.
Licensed cinemas will be able to serve alcohol 30 minutes before and after film screenings until 11pm at the latest.
The list of premises which are considered suitable to be licensed will include local breweries and gin distilleries, allowing local producers to apply for a licence to enable them to sell their alcohol for consumption off the premises.
Local producers will also be able permitted to provide small samples to patrons partaking in a tour of the premises.
A local producer’s licence will permit the business to sell their products at certain other licensed premises, including indoor arenas, outdoor stadiums and hotels.
In limited circumstances, and provided a number of approvals have been obtained, certain non-licensed premises, such as food or drink fairs, may sell products made by local producers.
In another first for Northern Ireland, licensed premises will be able to apply to a Magistrates’ Court for an order permitting underage functions, such as teenage discos, to be held in a specified part of those premises.
A Court will not grant such an order unless it is satisfied that:
Alcohol must not be made available for purchase to anyone over 18 at underage functions nor can they be permitted to consume alcohol in the part of the premises authorised for underage functions.
Premises from which alcohol is dispatched following an online sale must be licensed as an off-sales.
Anyone delivering alcohol, who is neither a servant nor an agent of the licence holder, must do so “without reasonable delay” and carry a receipt from the licence holder for the purchase of alcohol.
If you require any advice in relation to the changes to the liquor licensing laws in Northern Ireland, please get in touch with our Tourism & Licensing team.
This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor.