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Further Reading - Background to Licensing Law in Northern Ireland

The current legislation regulating the sale of alcoholic drinks in Northern Ireland dates back to 1996:

  • In broad terms, the Licensing (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (the Licensing Order) sets out the general licensing systems, including procedures governing the granting or renewal of licences by county/magistrates’ courts, permitted hours for the sale of alcoholic drinks, conduct of premises, conditions pertaining to the presence of children in licensed premises, and enforcement; and
  • The Registration of Clubs (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 does the same for the supply of alcoholic drinks in private members’ clubs.

The legislation was then amended by the Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, which included measures such as closure powers for police, penalty points, proof of age requirements and irresponsible drinks promotions. These measures were aimed at striking a balance between facilitating the sale of alcoholic drinks, public safety and the public interest.

Subsequently, the Licensing of Pavement Cafés Act (Northern Ireland) 2014 then inserted Part 5A in the Licensing Order, effectively extending the licensed area of certain premises to a specified public area.  

A further review of the legislation (which had begun in 2012), resulted in the Licensing and Registration of Clubs (Amendment) Bill (the 2016 Bill), as mentioned above.

Earlier in 2016, a private member’s Bill successfully completed its legislative passage in the Assembly, and added outdoor stadia as a category of premises which may be granted a liquor licence.

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