Licensed venues urged to renew licenses before end of ‘grace period’

Andrew Spratt
Andrew Spratt

A liquor licensing expert has warned that licensed venues in Northern Ireland could face serious fines if they do not take action to ensure they comply with licensing legislation.

Andrew Spratt, associate at A&L Goodbody, urged owners of licensed premises to ensure their liquor license is renewed within the “grace period” that ends on 30 September.

He explained: “Holders of licences for licensed premises in Northern Ireland must ensure that their licence is renewed every five years.

“Last year was the five-year anniversary for renewal, with licences needing to be renewed by 30 September 2017, however the current legislation – as set out in the Licensing (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 – allows for a grace year in which to renew ‘out of time’.”

A&L Goodbody has begun contacting businesses who are known to have failed to renew in 2017, but there may be more licences which have not yet been renewed.

Mr Spratt said: “A failure to meet the deadline could bring serious consequences for licensed venues including serious fines for trading without a valid licence.

“Licence holders who fail to renew will be required to make an application for a new licence, which will not only be more expensive, but such an application isn’t always guaranteed to be successful.

“With such a significant risk to their business, owners of licensed venues – including pubs and nightclubs, restaurants, off-licences, hotels, guest houses and third-level education institutions – should speak to a specialist licensing lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that that they are compliant.”