• lawcourtshomepage

Liquor Licensing

The issuing of a liquor licence is governed by the Licensing Ordinance 1994. A liquor licence entitles the licence holder to sell intoxicating liquor of the type specified within the licence and during the hours permitted by the licence / Ordinance. A licence may be held for specific retail premises so that sale can take place each day during the legally permitted hours (a "premises licence"), or it may be held for a special occasion (an "occasional licence"). For each application the court must be satisfied that the applicant is a "fit and proper person" to hold a licence. In determining the suitability of the applicant the court will consider all the information before it, including the applicant's demeanour, personal circumstances, any criminal convictions that he or she may have and any other relevant information.

Premises licenses

Premises licences are granted from the 1st July to 30th June each year and renewal hearings take place during May. If you wish to apply for a new premises licence you may do so at any time throughout the year. Please note, whenever you make your application, your licence will only last until the end of the following June.

There are several types of premises licences that may be applied for. Please note the court cannot advise you as to which type of licence you need to hold to sell intoxicating liquor; it can only advise you as to the procedure for making your application.

The following are short definitions of the types of premises licences available. For further information please see the specific links below:

Justice's on-licence - authorises the sale of intoxicating liquor for consumption on and off the licensed premises

Justice's off-licence - authorises the sale of intoxicating liquor to be consumed off the licensed premises only

Part V licence - authorises the sale of intoxicating liquor in restaurants and places offering residential accommodation

Club registration certificate - authorises the sale of intoxicating liquor on club premises. (A club may hold an on-licence, but shall not hold both an on-licence and a registration certificate at the same time. The differences between an on-licence and a club registration certificate are outlined in the more detailed information in the link "Club Registration Certificate" found below.)

The Licensing Justices also deal with applications to transfer a premises licence to a new licensee. Please see the link below for further information.

Occasional licences

An occasional licence authorises the sale of intoxicating liquor in unlicensed premises for a special occasion. In order to grant an occasional licence the court must be satisfied that the sale of intoxicating liquor will be ancillary to the event and that the place where the alcohol is to be sold is suitable and can readily exclude under 18s.

An application for an occasional licence must be made at least 7 days before the event is to take place. Notice of the application will be given to the police, who have the right to make representations in relation to the application should they wish to do so.

Where a hearing before the court is necessary, evidence on oath will be taken from the applicant in order to satisfy the court that the applicant is a fit and proper person.

Other applications

In addition to premises and occasional licences, the court may also grant camp exemption certificates, special hours certificates and children's certificates. For further information relating to these please see the links below.

General advice on applying for a liquor licence

If you are unsure as to which licence you should apply for please contact a Legal Practitioner. The court can only process your application and cannot advise as to the type of licence required in individual circumstances.

Where an application has time limits for processes please note that the earlier you can submit the application the better.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens to my application once I've filed it with the court?

Every application has its own requirements and processes. However, where the court receives your application in good time it will endeavour to inform you of the hearing date as soon as practicable. You are advised to make any application as soon as the need arises in order to ensure the matter can be dealt with in good time. All correspondence from the court will be in writing and applicants are advised to check their post regularly once their application is filed.

Will there be a hearing and do I have to attend?

Where the Senior Magistrate assumes jurisdiction over licensing matters there must be a hearing. Where the Licensing Justices' have retained jurisdiction there must also be a hearing. However, the Clerk to the Summary Court may deal with your application on the papers. This can only occur in specified circumstances.

Where there is a hearing the applicant must attend. Failure to attend will result in your application being dismissed.

What happens at a hearing?

The purpose of a hearing is for the Court to assess the application in accordance the Licensing Ordinance. You may be asked questions which relate to your character, the organisation of an event or business aims or anything else relating to your application. You will be asked to answer these questions on oath. This means that you will either have to swear on your chosen Holy Book or affirm that the evidence you are giving is true.

Licensing Hearings are open to the public.

What if I want to appeal the decision of the Licensing Justices'?

With certain applications it may be possible for you to appeal the decision of the Licensing Justices. If you are considering appealing a decision, please contact the court staff who will outline the process for you.

How and when do I pay fees?

Some fees are payable upon application, (when you file the application with the court) and some are payable upon grant (so you would only pay if the application is successful) and some are payable upon both. If you are unsure please do not hesitate to ask a member of the court staff. Fees may be paid by cash or cheque at the court or directly at the bank. Details of the appropriate account and reference can be provided by court staff. We cannot accept payment by debit or credit card.

What happens if I am convicted of an offence?

Under the Licensing Ordinance there are a number of specific offences that relate to licence holders. There are also a number of situations where the court may consider ordering the forfeiture of a licence or disqualifying the offender from holding a licence for a set period. It is important that you make yourself aware of these to ensure you do not commit any offences as a licence holder.

At each renewal and new application for a licence, the court must be satisfied that the applicant is a "fit and proper person to hold a licence." In considering matters, it will have due regard to any convictions for offences either under the Ordinance or for criminal matters. If you are convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for more than 12 months, you will be disqualified from holding a justices licence.