News & Insights: Licensing

New Additional Licensing Hours

23 November 2023

Ahead of the Christmas party season this year, licenced premises should bear in mind the new, more relaxed rules relating to the sale of alcohol when preparing for business over the coming weeks.

Recent amendments to licensing legislation was the first substantive change to licensing laws in Northern Ireland in over 25 years and reflects not only a change in the way people socialise but an attempt to harmonise licensing laws in Northern Ireland with the rest of the UK and Ireland. These changes have been welcomed across society and are seen as a major boost to the local hospitality and tourism industries.

It is imperative that hospitality businesses know where they stand in relation to additional licensing hours and know what they can avail of. Maximising recent legislative changes presents opportunities to trade over an extended time frame and to deliver increased revenues for their business.

Alcohol may normally be sold from 11:30am to 11pm, or on Sundays from 12:30pm to 11pm. Some licensed premises have a ‘late licence’ that normally allows them to sell alcohol as late as 1am or with further additional permitted hours until 2am, instead of previous limit of 11pm.

• Pubs and Hotels can apply to open until 2am up to 104 nights per year
• Smaller pubs will be able to open to 1am up to 104 nights per year
• Drinking-up time increased to 1 hour
• Removal of restrictions on late opening on Sunday (Sunday like any other day)

Hospitality owners should be aware that an application can be made to the County Court at the grant of a licence application or a Magistrates’ Court at any point in the future. It is important to bear in mind that entertainment stops at the end of drinking-up time.

Furthermore, it should also be noted that if the licensee is applying separately, the application must be displayed on the premises and be carried in two papers. The clerk can grant the application in the absence of any objections or other reasons why it should go to a judge as per Article 44a 2021 Act.

The licencing team at O’Reilly Stewart Solicitors led by Seamus McGranaghan understand challenges facing businesses in this heavily regulated area and are ready to advise on these issues and any concerns that clients may have.

Please contact us by telephone: 028 9032 1000 or by email at

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