Urgent call to review ‘archaic’ licensing law

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A BREWER has called for an immediate review of Jersey’s ‘archaic’ licensing law, arguing that unless changes were made soon the hospitality industry would be left hamstrung.

Randalls managing director Gavin Reid said they had been asking for the legislation – which has not been updated since 1974 – to be reviewed for 15 years.

Under the current law, businesses have to appear before the Royal Court in order to be granted permission to serve alcohol, which can mean long delays.

‘The timings are very frustrating and can slow the process down. If you just miss the quarterly window, you have to wait for the next one. It should be monthly,’ said Mr Reid.

The law has not kept pace with changes in the modern pub industry, argued Mr Reid, who said that many establishments now served food. He said certain licences meant children under the age of 18 had to be off the premises by 9pm.

‘If that premise serves food and someone [under the age of 18] arrives at 8.15pm, they have 45 minutes to eat and get out of there,’ he said.

‘In the holidays when there are French tourists that like to eat late, it can cause serious problems,’ said Mr Reid.

He also argued that licences should be assigned to individual managers ‘like a driving licence’, to allow them to travel from one site to the next.

Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel said he hoped an upcoming review of the licensing law would help the hospitality industry, but added that he did not expect any changes to the legislation this year.

Deputy Morel said changes would be part of a ‘bigger picture’ of reducing barriers to businesses and minimising red tape.

He said: ‘Anything we can do to enable Islanders to get better value for money on their night out is important. St Helier is where Islanders used to party the most, and it is an important part of the way that parish looks and feels, and having a thriving hospitality sector is key. It gives the parish and the Island a sense of life and buzz.’

Mr Reid said: ‘We find ourselves with an archaic law that we are trying to operate in a commercial environment that has seen significant advances in the way we trade and go about business.’

He added that he ‘wholeheartedly’ supported an ‘immediate review’.

Meanwhile, the Jersey Hospitality Association’s co-chief executive, Marcus Calvani, said it was ‘very urgent’ that the Island had more ‘fit-for-purpose’ legislation.

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