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Businesses miss alcohol deadline

Ten businesses have been unable to sell alcoholic beverages since the beginning of the month because they were late submitting their applications for a liquor licence.

Representatives from Somerset Cricket Club, Port Royal gas stations, Bud's Wines and Spirits, the Bermuda Sailors' Home and Mariner's Club, Vasco Da Gama Club, Bermuda Music and Drama Society, Ocean View Golf Club, Rising Son, UberVida and Front Street Wine and Spirits were summoned before the Liquor Licensing Authority yesterday to explain why they missed the March 15 deadline.

Chairman of the LLA, Juan Wolffe, told the business operators that late applications caused an “administrative nightmare” and added: “We want to make it very clear why late applications are a problem for us and a problem for you.”

Mr Wolffe acknowledged that many of the businesses brought to court had legitimate reasons why they had missed the deadline, but he urged operators to make sure they understood the law and the repercussions that submitting applications late had on the LLA as well as their own business.

He said that although licences cover the period June 1 to May 31, all new applications must be made by March 15 in order for the new one to be processed in time.

Captain Dennis Owen of the UberVida said that the oversight, which had occurred because he returned from his honeymoon late, had affected his business “very much” and already cost his firm “quite a bit of revenue” from selling alcoholic beverages.

Meanwhile, two East End businesses were also summoned before the LLA yesterday for submitting their applications late. Nobody appeared on behalf of Conscious Vibes café in St George so the licence was declined, whereas a new liquor licence application for Collectors Hill Apothecary was adjourned for a hearing date to be fixed.

All of the late applicants have been unable to sell any alcoholic beverages since June 1 when their last licence expired.

After speaking to each business owner and clarifying what the law requires, Mr Wolffe granted each applicant their licence.

“We have close to 300 applications for liquor licences and each one we vet and decide whether or not to grant them,” he said.

“Some of the applications were so late they did not even make it until the end of May. It causes administration problems for us and economic problems for you.

“It is only as a matter of courtesy that we had this hearing today. It could have been much later.

“We are not a rubber stamp authority, we will vet each and every one. We know there is a lot of abuse of the system out there, we want to make sure everyone is kept honest.”

Applicants told the LLA they had missed the deadline because of a change of management or due to just taking over the business, while many also admitted to misunderstanding of the rules, apologised for the oversight and promised it would not happen again.

Mr Wolffe told the business owners that the LLA would accept licence applications before a sanitation certificate had been obtained, which he said was a “common misconception”.

The senior magistrate also reminded representatives from members clubs they were under a duty to provide details of minutes and subscriptions as part of their licence requirement.

He closed the series of hearings in Magistrates' Court by telling applicants that the LLA was keen to hear from them on ways the system could be improved and work with them moving forward.

Chairman of the LLA Juan Wolffe. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published June 08, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 08, 2016 at 7:45 am)

Businesses miss alcohol deadline

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