Liquor Snapshot: Director’s decisions signal tough times ahead for applicants
Posted on March 6th, 2012 by sbawa
The Director of Liquor Licensing has recently published four decisions regarding new licence applications. Three applications were refused in the public interest. Two of those decisions in particular contain a much more rigorous analysis than previously of the evidence lodged in support. The question which arises is whether these cases signal a watershed in the decision maker’s approach?
In support of the Bridgetown IGA liquor store licence, the applicant lodged witness petitions and witness questionnaires in support. The Director dismissed the evidence, stating that ‘No weight has been given to the 89 witness petitions as they are merely the opinions of respondents that have no probative value…’ As to the questionnaires, the Director found them to be ‘of little probative value’ due to the lack of rigour of the questions and the responses.
The application for a nightclub licence in Queen Street, Perth met a similar unhappy ending. The Director found that the applicant had not ‘…presented cogent evidence to establish that the proposed nightclub will be catering for the requirements of consumers for liquor and related services…’ despite the applicant having lodged an online and manual petition and numerous letters in support of the application. Of particular note for inner city licensees and potential applicants, the Director found that ‘there is already a significant level of alcohol-related harm in the Perth area’ and that in his opinion ‘even a relatively small risk of increase in that level of harm to be unacceptable.’
The other recent refusal was a small bar application on Albany Highway in East Victoria Park where it was held the applicant failed to provide evidence that was ‘relevant, reliable and logically probative’. The Director’s decision in this instance illustrates that any application must be supported by objective evidence whether or not the application is categorised as being complex in the Public Interest Assessment Policy.
Even though the Public Interest Assessment Policy states that a small bar licence application is of a kind that is less complex than others, this does not in fact appear necessarily to be the case. Therefore in such cases it is highly recommended that applicants always complete a comprehensive Public Interest Assessment which is supported by compelling objective evidence from consumers as to their requirements for the proposed liquor and related services. Also, it is common place for small bar licence applications to be the subject of Police interventions.
These recent decisions can be contrasted with the November 2010 central city Sentinel tavern decision ofwhere the applicant provided ‘36 Public Interest Witness Questionnaires as objective evidence that its services would cater for the requirements of consumers’. This relatively small amount of support was found to be ‘a representative sample of consumers in the CBD and their requirements for liquor……’
Every application is decided on the substantial merits of the particular case. These latest decisions clearly demonstrate the Director is more critically analysing and weighing the evidence put forward by applicants. The decisions are clearly indicative of a more stringent approach and almost certainly are a warning signal for those seeking licences in the future to prepare with much more care and detail than was needed in the past.
If you require assistance preparing your application or have any other liquor licensing query please do not hesitate to contact:
|Dan Mossenson||Ian Curlewis|
|(08) 9288 6769||(08) 9288 6756|
|Jessica Patterson||Alec Weston|
|(08) 9288 6946||(08) 9288 6873|