Hospitality sector urged to renew liquor licences post pandemic

Licensing law specialist John Finnegan  is urging the Northern Ireland hospitality sector to carefully check and renew their liquor licences in 2022.

The renewal process for every licensed restaurant, pub, hotel and off-licence in Northern Ireland must be renewed every five years, with the deadline of September 2022 now approaching. Following the challenging pandemic period, which caused the hospitality sector a great deal of damage, John points out that the risk of not renewing a license or renewing it inaccurately, is significant:

“During the pandemic, a huge number of hospitality businesses have understandably had to reshape their premises, utilise outside spaces and generally undergo changes in order to keep trading whilst complying with varying restrictions.

“I strongly recommended that operators immediately obtain a copy of the licensing plan for their premises held by the court and check it against the current layout on the ground.  Steps can then be taken to remedy any discrepancy ahead of the renewal deadline.

“If a licence renewal is overlooked and a deadline missed, this can lead to damaging periods of closure or at worst a ‘dead’ licence, which could potentially be terminal for the business.

“Equally it is important to bear in mind that the licence applicant is confirming that no alterations have been made to the premises since the previous renewal without the consent of the court. If this confirmation is given and later proves inaccurate, there is a real risk that the licence can be deemed void at a later date,” John Finnegan explains.

Millar McCall Wylie is currently offering a ‘Licence Health Check’ for the hospitality sector to help operators ensure they are renewing the correct licence for their business and to guide them through the renewal process.

Anyone in the hospitality sector seeking advice in relation to any aspect of the licence renewal process can contact John Finnegan on 02890 200050.