Press Conference Remarks By Senator The Hon. Kathy L. Simmons, JP, Attorney-General And Minister Of Legal Affairs
I am pleased to announce that the Liquor Licence Amendment Act 2019 comes into operation today to usher in much needed reform to modernize Bermuda’s liquor licensing regime. The amendments represent the first comprehensive legislative overhaul toward modernizing Bermuda’s liquor licensing regime since it was first established approximately 45 years ago.
In reforming the liquor licensing laws, the Government sought to balance protecting the community from the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption with the evolving needs of entrepreneurs to provide this amenity to their adult customers with fewer administrative impediments.
The ongoing modernization of liquor licencing laws ensures reforms that serve the interest of the community while enabling the Liquor Licencing Authority to make decisions within a clearly defined set of criteria in a timely manner.
The amendments to the law include:
- Creation of a single streamlined Liquor Licensing Authority comprised of 5 members as opposed to 10. This replaces the predominantly geographical focus of the previous 3 Licensing Authorities with three members for each of three districts, plus a predetermined Chair. The membership will now represent various professional backgrounds and sectors of the economy such as law, security, drug treatment, prevention or social work, hospitality, and retail. These varying backgrounds ensure all viewpoints and stakeholders are factored into their decisions to more effectively safeguard the interests of society.
In addition to reforming the governance structure, other measures include:
- Creation of a new class of permit for restaurants offering catering services;
- Creation of new classes of licence in relation to itinerant restaurants and special events;
- Creation of a special event licence for private, non-profit events; public events for profit; or non-profit events held to promote a product through sampling such as wine tasting. This will enable more entrepreneurs to potentially participate and provide innovative and creative events for both locals and our visitors;
- Provisions for fees for the new classes of licence;
- Update of fees and fines for existing licences and offences respectively; and
- Additional provisions for inspectors to be appointed to ensure enforcement. The new inspection regime makes provision for collaboration between duly appointed persons and the Bermuda Police Service to ensure that the terms and conditions upon which licences are granted are upheld. These measures demonstrate the heightened priority placed upon compliance and enforcement.
As a complement to these measures, provision is made for the Minister to issue guidance to assist the public in understanding each class of licence and further streamline the application process.
Our reform of the Liquor Licensing law took into consideration recommendations of the Senior Magistrate as former Chairman of the Liquor Licensing Authorities, social and legal concerns as well as commercial interests. The amendments further reflect modern practices regarding alcohol sale, consumption and regulation.
We wish to thank the various stakeholders for their engagement in the process of modernizing local liquor licensing laws. The result is a streamlined process that lessen delays of applications that are submitted by the required due date.
We are confident that with the cumulative effect of these measures, Bermuda will compare favorably to other jurisdictions. Most importantly we will be better equipped to address today’s complexities posed by the challenges of ensuring responsible sale and consumption of alcohol whilst promoting economic advancement of existing and new business.