The new Liquor Licensing Law will commence on 1 January 2016.
Current and future licence holders are advised that the law features several amended or entirely new components, all of which are intended to improve the liquor licensing process.
In particular, the law removes the requirement to lift the current moratorium in order for the Liquor Licensing Board to grant new liquor licences. As Minister of Commerce Wayne Panton says, the idea is to mitigate current practices with regard to the leasing of licences.
‘As a result of the previous moratorium, current license holders developed a business practice whereby their licences were leased to others for large amounts’, he said. ‘Government hopes to eliminate that practice by now tying licences to businesses.
‘Ultimately, with the new Liquor Licensing Law, we are able to provide the necessary regulations that give both consumers and business owners more confidence in our licensing framework’.
The Department of Commerce and Investment (DCI) will administer the new law; and Director Ryan Rajkumarsingh highlighted five important aspects for the public to consider:
1.New requirements for grants. Persons seeking a liquor licensing grant, whether for an annual or occasional licence, must provide proof of a valid trade and business licence, along with the relevant licensing fee and previously requested details. Liquor can only be sold by the trade and business licence holder.
2.Grace period for renewal applications. If you are renewing your licence, you have until 30 September, 2018, to submit your renewal application along with proof of a valid trade and business licence. If the liquor licensing board revokes your licence before that date, the grace period will not apply.
3.Trade officer inspection. At the request of the Liquor Licensing Board, DCI trade officers may inspect any licensed premises and report back to the board on whether the premises are being used in accordance with their licences. Trade officers must clearly identify themselves and any person who hinders inspections commits an offence and is subject to a penalty.
4.Board constitution and meetings. The board increases in size from five to ten members in Grand Cayman, which includes representatives from DCI, the Department of Planning and the Department of Environmental Health, and five to eight members in the Sister Islands. Board members are now able to attend board meetings, which remain open to the public, via teleconference or other electronic means if they cannot attend in person.
5.Flexibility with opening hours. License holders can sell liquor at their licensed premises at any point during the hours specified in their license and the licensed premises can open and close at any time during the permitted hours.
The Legislative Assembly passed the new law in December 2014. Since then, Mr Rajkumarsingh said DCI staff have been preparing for the enforcement of the law.
‘Both business owners and staff will need to adjust their practices to comply with the new law’, he said. ‘For DCI, our goal is to have operational systems in place where we can act in accordance with the new legislation as of 1 January’.