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Cheers! Four Changes Publicans Need To Know As Ireland Plans To Overhaul Outdated Licensing Laws – Arbitration & Dispute Resolution

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Opening hours for pubs in Ireland will be standardised across
the week, and applications will be cheaper, if a proposed overhaul
of the system of licencing laws by the Irish Government is
passed.

The proposed changes were announced on 25 October 2022 with the
new laws expected to be enacted by next year if accepted. They
modernise an outdated system of licencing laws, some of which
predate the 1800s.

Pubs will have the option of opening from 10.30am to 12.30am,
seven days a week. Sunday sales in pubs are currently limited from
12.30pm to 11pm, while opening times from Monday to Thursday are
generally from 10.30am to 11.30pm.

The announcement sees the roll out of The General Scheme of the
Sale of Alcohol Bill (the Bill), which is a project implemented by
the Night-Time Economy Taskforce established by Minister Catherine
Martin.

If enacted, the proposed legislation will bring about the
following changes:

Opening Times

The holder of a Publican’s Licence will be permitted to
remain open until 12:30am seven nights a week. Currently premises
with a Publican’s Licence can stay open to 11.00pm on a Sunday,
11.30pm Monday to Thursday and 12.30am Friday and Saturday
night.

Nightclubs

Holders of a Nightclub Permit will be permitted to stay open
until 6am and these permits will be renewed annually. The proofs
required to renew the Nightclub Permit will likely be similar to
what is required to renew a Dance Licence currently, including the
requirement to have CCTV and security on the premises. Holders of
Publican’s Licences or Hotel Licences can apply for a Nightclub
Permit.

Late Bar Permit

The holder of a Publican’s Licence or Hotel Licence may make
an application for the grant of a Late Bar Permit. This permit will
permit the licence holder to remain open every night until
2.30am.

To apply for a Late Bar Permit, the premises will need to have
security and a CCTV system in place, and the permit must be renewed
annually. Under the current licensing system, licence holders must
apply to the District Court once a month for a Special Exemption
Order for each night that they intend to stay open late, paying
stamp duty of €205 per night listed (previously €410 per
night).

The Late Bar Permit is a welcome addition to the licensing law
regime in Ireland. If by effect it removes the requirement for
Special Exemption Orders, it will save publican’s thousands
annually in both stamp duty and legal fees.

Cultural Amenity Licence

A new “Cultural Amenity Licence” for galleries,
theatres, museums and other cultural venues that the Minister deems
a Cultural Amenity will permit the sale of alcohol at these
premises to persons attending cultural activities between 10.30am
and 12.30am the following morning. The sale of alcohol will only be
permitted when persons are attending cultural activities or
attending a function on the premises.

*Note: the current general system of licensing will remain in
place

A notable point for publicans is that the current general system
of licensing will remain in place – with licences only being
granted by the Court and objections being permitted from fire
authorities, the HSE, An Garda Síochána and local
communities. On a positive note, some of these applications will
move from being heard before the Circuit Court to the District
Court, which should provide some level of reduction in costs for
publicans.

Overall the Bill is a welcome addition to the current licencing
regime. Minister for Justice Ms Helen McEntee said: “It’s
really about how do we consolidate what is a lot of complex laws
and outdated laws, but also to make it easier for people to get
into the industry, to make it easier for newcomers, young people,
and to just create a better environment for our artists and our
venues as well.”

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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