Beware of new provisions in The 2008 Intoxicating Liquor Act
Changes to The 2008 intoxicating Liquor Act mean retailers are now required to obtain a special court certificate in order to get a wine licence
16 March 2010
The Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 introduced a number of changes with respect to off-licences. Most notably in relation to hours of trading at Section 4(1c) which basically restricts opening time until 10pm. This was expected, however Section 6 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 brought in a provision, which was not expected. This provision relates to the need to obtain a court certificate in order to take up a new retailer wine off-licence from the Revenue.
While carrying out a substantial refurbishment of his shop an owner of a Mace Store allowed his wine retailers off-licence to lapse for the licensing year 2007-2008. When he went to take up his licence from the Revenue Commissioners in October 2008 he discovered that the provisions of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008 now applied in relation to the taking up of wine retailers off-licence and he was required to have a court certificate in order to take up the licence.
Although easy to miss, the Section 6 of the Act states, “The Revenue Commissioners shall not grant a new wine retailers off-licence to a person unless a certificate is presented to them which has been received by the person from the District Court and which entitles the person to a wine retailers off-licence.”
It seems unusual that it is now required to get a court certificate to get a wine retailers off-licence while it is still the case that it is not required to get a court certificate for a wine retailers on-licence. The retailer in question was now required to get the court certificate to take up his wine retailers off-licence and this turned out to be a little more onerous than you might think.
The actual application itself is quite straightforward. However, it is necessary to serve notice parties, to advertise, to produce plans of the premises, to produce the title to the premises, and to have an architect or someone to deal with proving the plans and compliance with the planning and fire safety aspects of the premises. Luckily for the retailer he had an architect involved in the refurbishment/reconstruction of the shop so he was able to get a set of licensing plans. The architect was ready to proof plans and compliance with planning and fire safety aspects of the premises to the court. Once the court certificate was taken up he then had to go through the normal procedure of taking up the licence from the Revenue Commissioners.
It should be noted also that following the Act, in order to transfer a wine retailers off-licence (due to the sale of the property or other) it is now necessary to go through the normal ad-interim and confirmation of transfer procedure. In essence all shops with a wine retailers off-licence are now brought fully within the transfer regime operated by the District Court, just like pubs, hotels, off-licences etc.
It should also be noted that the application for a new wine retailers off-licence will have to be included with every application for a new off-licence which will now be made up of the two licences, ie-the beer retailers off-licence and the spirit retailers off-licence, previously applied for, together with the new wine retailers off-license. Unless mention of the wine retailers off-licence is included in the application, the judge may end up granting an off-licence without the entitlement to sell wine.
It is not known why this change in legislation came but it is now the law and holders of wine retailers off-licences have no alternative but to live with it.
Joe Mooney Solicitors,
23 Upper Mount Street, Dublin 2