The Department of Home Affairs have published their implementation plan for bringing in changes to liquor and public entertainment licensing.
These changes are designed to modernise the current licensing framework and put in place a more responsive and agile service to meet the changing needs of our hospitality and entertainment industry.
The new Liquor Licensing and Public Entertainments Act 2021 is ‘enabling legislation’, providing the Department the power to bring in regulations setting out the full detail of the framework that will be put in place. This will allow for more flexibility in the future with an adaptable licensing regime, where regulations can be updated as required.
A consultation is planned for later this year to gather views on the regulations which will include proposals to changes the categories of licence available, and add flexibility for events such as 'pop-ups/occasional licensing'. This will mean that 'one off' events should become more straightforward for businesses to organise and run.
There will also be a move away from the current triennials process where each licensed premises must renew its licence on a rolling three year basis – instead it is being considered that well maintained licences will continue to roll over year on year subject to a notification process and annual fees.
Plans to enhance risk assessment and safety management are also included with the introduction of a modernised Licensing Forum Code of Conduct, containing templates providing for site management plans and risk assessments to be put in place.
The refreshed Code and its associated templates have been developed by the Licensing Forum which is a partnership between government and industry representatives. Clear guidance for both the licensed hospitality industry and public entertainment sectors will also be made available to better assist businesses, charities and event organisers.
Minister for Justice and Home Affairs, Jane Poole-Wilson MHK, said:
‘This new framework will complement the high standards already in place across the Island’s licensed hospitality industry. The Act clearly outlines the licensing objectives which are the cornerstones of the framework – maintaining practices which will put public safety, the prevention of crime and disorder, and a supportive environment for our licensed hospitality at the heart of the process.’
The Minister continued:
‘This is an excellent example of true partnership working and open consultation with the Licensing Forum; bringing Government, the hospitality industry and the Police together to address alcohol related problems and how to improve protections for our society.’
The implementation plan outlines the work required to bring a new framework into operation and a timeline for introduction of these changes the majority of which will be in place by 1 November 2022. The plan also sets out other related matters which will be considered for implementation following the establishment of this new framework.