Alcohol and Licensing

Bar and Pub Licences

Bar and Pub Licences

The Licensing Laws in Ireland can be complex and involve a numbers of different Acts and Statutes over a number of years from 1880. Ultimately the Licensing and Liquor Act 2000 was enacted in an attempt to consolidate the laws for Bar and Pub Licences. Since the enactment of this Act and number of amending Acts and regulations have also been passed.

The consolidation of of Irish Licensing law has resulted essentially in normalised bar and pub licences being deemed a “seven day ordinary on-licence”. This licence enables the typical operation of bars and pubs in Ireland within the permitted hours as follows:

  • Monday to Thursday – 10.30 a.m. to 11.30 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday – 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 a.m.
  • Sunday – 12.30 p.m. to 11.00 p.m.

At closing time, a publican must by law stop serving alcoholic drinks. There is an accepted “drinking up” time which the industry recognises as a further thirty minutes. A pub or bar can extend these opening times by making applications to the Court for special exemptions. If there are music events in the pub, these will require an additional Music & Singing licence.

In August 2003 the Government passed a law making “happy hours” illegal. It is now prohibited in Ireland to sell alcohol at a reduced price for a limited time.

For anyone operating bars and pubs in Ireland, they must also be mindful of the law relating to children on the premises. Anyone under the age of 18) is allowed in bar and pubs if they are with a parent or guardian. When accompanied, any child may remain on the premises from 10:30 a.m. to latest time 9 p.m. ( or 10 p.m. in summer/autumn, May to September). If the licence holder feels a child being in the premises at any time is injurious to the child’s health, safety and welfare, he or she may lawfully require that such child or children be removed by their parent or guardians. In respect of minors between the ages of 15 and 17 years, they may remain on the premises after 9 p.m. where they are attending a private function. The function must serve a substantial meal. A licence holder must display a sign outlining these requirements in a prominent place at all times. Failure to do so can result in a fine.

The ordinary seven day on licence does not permit the sale of food with alcohol on it’s own. Any business wishing to do so must apply to the Court for a Restaurant Certificate (click to our separate section).

For new pub businesses a seven day ordinary on-licence can only be created in return for another licence being extinguished. Therefore a similar licence must be acquired or otherwise available from another premises which is extinguished by the Court in place of the new licence created. Anyone entering the pub business in Ireland should bear this in mind and factor in the costs of purchase of an existing licence to their business plan. Ordinary-on Pub Licences must be renewed annually and, unless there are objections, this is usually handled by the business’ accountants. It does not involve a renewal in Court. To renew the licence, the business must produce a valid tax clearance certificate from the Irish Revenue Commissioners. Where a pub licence has not been renewed, e.g the pub or bar has gone out of business or ceased trading, an application can be made in certain circumstances to the Court to restore the licence for a new business at the same location or for the purposes of sale.

Since 2004, Ireland instituted an outright ban on smoking in workplaces and public places. The ban is strictly enforced and includes bars, restaurants, clubs, offices, public buildings, company cars, trucks, taxis and vans – and within a three-metre radius to the entrances of these locations. The maximum on the spot fine is €3,000. Persistent offenders can face prison. In the case of bars and pubs, they now must have designated smoking areas. These cannot be rooms and sheltered areas can not have more than 50 percent coverage of walls. Premises must display a sign to inform patrons of the ban (in Irish or English), and the contact person for any complaints.

The members of the Abacus Legal Network have a strong track record in Licensing matters in Ireland especially for all issues involving bar and pub licences. Our specialist licensing solicitors act for numerous licensed businesses around the country and routinely advise on costs and strategy. Members commonly resolve problems and difficulties that can arise for businesses seeking to comply with the licensing laws in Ireland. Our Members are always welcoming and their service personable. Use our contact form below to get in touch and we will take it from there.

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