5 Facts From The Spirit Licence Act

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In 2015, it was announced that the fine for operating a business selling spirits – wine, beer, rum, malt liquors, etc – without a licence would be increased from a mere $2 to $250,000. Before that, if any person carried on a trade or business without having the requisite licence, the proprietor would be liable to a penalty not exceeding $2 for every day on which, while unlicensed, he carried on such trade or business.

Any person wishing to operate such a business needs to apply for a spirit licence, and that licence must be prominently displayed on the premises. Here are some facts from the Spirit Licence Act.

  1. There are several types of spirit licences:
    • town retail licence
    • town-off licence
    • village retail licence
    • tavern licence
    • hotel licence
  2. Anyone interested in obtaining a spirit licence has 21 days prior to the fixed licensing authority session to submit a written application, which must set forth:
    • the nature of the licence applied for
    • a full description of the premises for which the same is desired and as nearly as may be the situation of the same
    • whether he has ever before held a licence under this Act or Law 31 of 1905 which is now repealed and if so when and where and whether his licence was at any time forfeited
    • whether the premises for which the licence is desired have, within the twelve months immediately preceding the application, been licensed under this Act
    • whether he is able to read and write the English language and to keep account books in English
    • whether he has at any time within five years prior to the application been convicted of any offence against this Act.
  3. An application for a spirit licence may be refused on several grounds, including the following:
    • the premises are unfit for the purpose of the licence applied for, or are in the opinion of the Licensing Authority, undesirable to be licensed
    • the applicant is found to be a person of bad character
    • the premises are likely to be a nuisance to the neighbourhood
    • the applicant has neglected to comply with any of the provisions of this Act in making his application
    • there is a sufficient number of premises already licensed to meet the needs of the neighbourhood
    • that the applicant has not attained the age of 21
    • the applicant has been convicted, on more than one occasion, of an offence under section 40 of the Child Care and Protection Act
  4. A special licence is required for any public event where liquor is expected to be served, even if the person holding the event already has a spirit licence for his/her premises (tavern, hotel, etc).
  5. Every retailer of spirits has to keep a written record of the following particulars of every lot of spirits received into his licenced premises:
    • the date of receipt
    • the name of the person from whom received
    • the quantity and description of spirits
    • every place and item intended to be used to store and retail such spirits. This record must be produced for the inspection of any collector, superintendent, officer of revenue or police officer. Failure to produce same is an offence and the owner faces a fine.