Food, Beverage & Licensing Law

Ireland’s food and beverage industry has never faced a challenge like Covid 19 before. For many small and large businesses nationwide, it can be a day-to-day struggle to survive. New requirements, legislation and etiquette mean that adapting would be crucial to survival.

Clarke Jeffers is proud to have worked with some of the biggest local and global food and beverage brands operating in Ireland including food retailers, restaurants, manufacturers and hotels. Our extensive experience in the food and beverage sector ensures that we have the expertise to understand and are often complex areas surrounding food and beverage law and affecting the day-to-day operations of such businesses. We have also worked with all forms of hotels from small to large, two star to five star together with pubs, and sporting clubs to obtain liquor licences necessary to facilitate their bar facilities. Our team is focused on bringing this unrivalled experience to bear for its clients in helping them to adapt to the new reality of Covid 19.

Running a business in the food and beverage sector, be it big or small is a day-to-day battle. Changing legislation and ever-changing health guidance means that concentrating on what is a core business can often be difficult. Our team is ready to provide the assistance needed to allow our clients concentrate on their brand and turn difficult times into opportunity.

Our expertise in Insurance Law is coming to the forefront at the moment with the continuing rejection of business interruption insurance within the sector. Not every business is entitled to make a successful claim in this regard but a large amount are being unfairly denied the cover they paid for. It is for this reason we continue to expand our reach and expertise in this area.

We also understand the difficulties for food and beverage business in discharging rent during periods of lockdown and restriction.  Our Team advises tenants and Landlords on such issues and has experience in alternative arrangements to assist in facilitating negotiation impasse.

“Like Mr Darwin said. Its not the biggest or strongest that will survive but the ones that can adopt.  We are a solutions driven Firm. Lawyers who think like business people.   Our team, with its wealth of experience in this area is ready to help our clients adopt, survive and thrive”

-Victor Clarke, Managing Partner.

We advise clients in the following areas:

  • Licensing and Liquor Law

  • Ad interim Licence transfers

  • Restaurants / Hotels

  • Sports clubs / Club licences

  • Music & dancing licences

  • Regulatory advice

  • Insurance Law

  • Brand protection

  • Landlord and Tenant

  • Supply Agreements

  • Distribution Agreements

  • Staff and employment issues.

  • Supply chain

  • Field to fork advice

  • Franchising


View our frequently asked questions.

Our firm is blending its expert skill sets in food and beverage, commercial rescue and property knowledge to bring the greatest set of expertise possible to our clients. Covid 19 has changed food and beverages as we know it possibly for the long term. The businesses that can adapt properly will be the ones that survive. The first step in property adapting is knowing your options. Clarke Jeffers have built a specific knowledge base to assist all our Food and Beverage clients to weather this storm.

Whether you can challenge your insurers refusal for business interruption insurance very much depends on the specific wording of your insurance policy. In addition, there is a strict time limit under most insurance policies for the issuing of any disputes. Thus, the best advice we can provide is to have your policy professionally reviewed and do so as quickly and urgently as possible. We are always happy to assist.

If you would like us to provide an opinion as to where you stand in terms of taking a case against your insurer then we will need to see your policy schedule and the actual policy itself together with any correspondence you may have received from your insurers. Once we have this documentation, we can issue an opinion as to whether or not we feel the declination is justified otherwise.

While the terms of the lease are usually binding necessity has become the mother of invention. There are a number of alternatives that you can put to a landlord for negotiation such as an extended lease in return for a period of rent reduction or the removal of a break clause again for an agreed period of rent reduction.

If you are the owner of food and beverage business and that business is incorporated (i.e. a company) and you feel that you are insolvent because of historical overheads but that there is a strong prospect of survival if those overheads are reduced (for example rent) then the examinership lite process could be for you. This is a process that protects the business while it restructures and can even assist a business to get out of binding leases so that they can move premises to a more suitable alternative allowing it enough of the saving to survive for the long term.

This is a difficult one and very much dependent on the circumstances. The first piece of advice we give clients is that you must understand what your legally obligations are. This requires you to understand the exact nature of the relevant regulations. From there on examination of any paperwork concluded will show how best to handle any cancellation or liability that might arise on foot of same.

While your bar may not be trading now it will hopefully open up in the near future. If your bar is to open in all it needs current liquor licence. Accordingly, if you feel that you will be opening in the future then you will need to renew your licence to ensure that that can happen.

It is not permitted to sell alcohol as part of a takeaway offering unless your licence specifically permits it. Usually a special restaurant licence will not provide the permission necessary. It is more likely you will need a form of off-licence to legally provide alcohol with takeaway food.

The two main types of relevant licence are:

  1. A special restaurant licence (where the holder is entitled to sell all types of alcohol for consumption in their restaurant. The holder is not permitted to have a bar on the premises)
  1. A wine retailer on licence (the holder may sell wine, sherry and fermented liquor containing less than 23% vol. the licences confined to a premises deemed to be a “refreshment house”.

A wet pub is a pub that concentrates on serving alcohol and not food. These types of pubs are subject to extra measures under the Covid 19 regulations.


Learn more about our key staff in this area.

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