Section 4 comes into operation in November next year. The purpose of this provision is to ensure that the Environmental Health Service of the HSE – the enforcement authority for the Act – will be notified in advance of applications for licences under the Intoxicating Liquor Acts and if it wishes to do so, can appear and give evidence at court hearings on such applications.
Section 4 provides that “an applicant for the grant or renewal of a licence under the Licensing Acts 1833 to 2011 and an applicant for the grant or renewal of a licence under the Registration of Clubs Acts 1904 to 2008 shall notify the Health Service Executive of the application”.
Applicants are expected to give “one month’s notice in writing (or such shorter period of notice as the Executive may in the special circumstances of the case agree to accept) of the application of the Executive and the Executive may appear, be heard and adduce evidence in respect of the application at the hearing”.
However the need to inform the HSE is likely to have limited application to the on-trade.
The reason for the HSE’s involvement here is that this Act confers certain powers on Environmental Health Officers that has not previously been the case.
For example, EHOs have a responsibility to ensure that segregation in mixed trading outlets is adhered to. They’ll also have powers in respect of ensuring Minimum Unit Pricing is adhered to. Previously, they were not a ‘competent objector’ to the renewal of a licence but because of this development, they now can now be a competent objector.
“As MUP and segregation are not issues, by and large, for the pub trade we don’t think this will be a major issue other than extra administrative work when renewing,” commented Vintners Federation of Ireland spokesman Brian Foley, “It might be compared to the so-called ‘yellow form’ that must be sent to the fire officer when renewing a licence but is really only relevant to publicans with a dance licence. In this case, it’s supermarkets and off-licences that will be most impacted.”