Royal Assent for the Liquor Licensing and Public Entertainments Act 2021 has this week been announced in Tynwald (Tuesday 14 December).
It is an ‘enabling’ Act, providing the basis for a modern and adaptable licensing regime in the Isle of Man which is safe, sustainable and allows the licensed hospitality sector to flourish.
The next step towards practical reform is a round of consultation with the hospitality industry and those who use it or are affected by it. Feedback from this will help shape the secondary legislation which sits underneath the Act - the Regulations and guidance which define how a new licensing regime can operate in practice, and the safety measures and standards expected of all involved.
Several sections of the Act come into force immediately on Royal Asset being received. One of these prevents certain restrictive covenants being placed on licensed premises, which until now have allowed their owners to limit the way premises can be used after they are sold. The same section of the Act relates to restrictive agreements around the supply of beer to licensed premises.
Two other sections which will apply straight away relate to the postponement of the Triennial session of the Licensing Court for both alcohol licences and music and dancing licences. The session is now moved to 2023, while annual fees relating to licences that sit within the current Triennial session are waived, thanks to the support of the Treasury.
Minister for Justice and Home Affairs Jane Poole-Wilson MHK said:
‘The Department is delighted that Royal Assent has now been received for the Liquor Licensing and Public Entertainment Act 2021. We look forward to building a regime which fosters a vibrant, responsible and responsive licenced hospitality industry, one which offers opportunities for existing traders, start-up businesses, customers, community groups and the wider public.'
‘This Act commits the Department to consultation with those who will be affected by changes to the licensing regime, and there is still much work to be done prior to the commencement of the new regime in just under a year’s time, on 1 November 2022. '
The Minister added:
'The Department has welcomed the input of the Licensing Forum and its commitment to future partnership working. The positive and enthusiastic engagement we have seen to date from the public via the Consultation Hub is also very much welcomed. We look forward to receiving further valuable and informed commentary in the near future as the regulations and statutory guidance are themselves subject to public consultation.’
Tynwald Members have also this week approved an Order extending the Occasional Licence period in connection with TT 2022 by two days. The Order means that outlets which successfully obtain an Occasional Licence for this period will be able to serve locals and visitors during the TT festival from the weekend before practice week until the weekend at the end of race week, a period of 16 days rather than the standard 14.
The Order replaces one which had been approved for TT 2020, but was not able to be utilised when the event was cancelled due to the pandemic. As now, the expanded timeframe aimed to increase the public’s enjoyment of TT hospitality and entertainment opportunities over a slightly longer period, and the change was agreed with licensee representatives.
The granting of 16 day Occasional Licences for the TT 2022 period is to be a trial, and feedback from businesses and the public will be gathered afterwards by the Department and shared with the public.