Northern Ireland licensees encouraged to renew or risk missing the deadline
Licensed venues must take action now to ensure they comply with legislation in order to avoid "serious consequences", according to a Belfast legal firm.
A&L Goodbody has urged owners of licensed premises to ensure their liquor licence is renewed within the "grace period" ending on September 30 this year.
"Holders of licences for licensed premises in Northern Ireland must ensure that their licence is renewed every five years," said Andrew Spratt, an associate at the firm.
"Last year was the five-year anniversary for renewal, with licences needing to be renewed by September 30, 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'," he explained.
A&L Goodbody said it has started contacting businesses who are known to have failed to renew in 2017, but there may be more licences which have not yet been renewed.
Therefore, with very little time remaining before this grace year ends on September 30, 2018, Mr Spratt has advised licensees to check that their licence was renewed last year and, if not, take urgent action to meet the upcoming deadline.
"A failure to meet the deadline could bring serious consequences for licensed venues including serious fines for trading without a valid licence," said Mr Spratt.
"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 they are compliant."