Restaurants and Caterers | Liquor Licensing Act Amendments


Liquor Licensing | Changes Commence ‘On the Drip’

JUNE 2018

  • Whilst some changes took effect 18 December 2017 the new consolidated category of the 'Restaurant and Catering' licence will not be phased in until (at least) later in 2018.
  • Restaurants & caterers operating with SCL's will likely need to take proactive action at that time to ensure they do not lose any trading rights.
  • Licensees no longer need to obtain Entertainment Consent from the Licensing Authority, making it easier for venues to host live and other entertainment – but beware exceptions (sexually explicit entertainment, martial arts) and other legislation!

Recent changes to the Liquor Licensing Act passed by State Parliament have now been proclaimed in part only. The bulk of the changes will not be operational until later in 2018 or beyond, including the creation of the new 'Restaurant and Catering' licence. The first tranche of changes took effect 18 December 2017, freeing up of some trading hours, enhancing measures to prevent supply of liquor to minors and removing some public notification and advertising requirements for certain licence applications.

New licence categories to be introduced as early as this year

Restaurants - on the appointed day, an existing 'Restaurant Licence' will become a 'Restaurant and Catering' Licence. 

Restaurants and caterers with 'Special Circumstances Licences' (SCL) - on the appointed day, an existing SCL will most likely become a 'Restaurant and Catering' Licence. But beware, you may well be worse off under the transition to this new licence type. 

If an old licence contains conditions beyond the new 'Restaurant and Catering' Licence, they might be able to be retained under a different licence type authorising more expansive trade. Function centres and wine bars are obvious examples of where great care should be taken to ensure nothing is lost during the transition.

Once the transition to new licences is announced, we understand that the Commissioner will inform a licensee of their allocated licence type.  We suggest all licensees take action to review their new licence at that time and seek advice if any doubt as to whether their trading rights are diminished.  If you are not satisfied with the Commissioner's proposed course of action, you may well have a right of review.

What has already changed?

Entertainment Conditions Revoked – are we now the "party state"!?

Entertainment Consents previously in force are revoked from 18 December 2017.  Any entertainment condition on a licence will also be taken to be of no effect.  Despite that, any conditions limiting entertainment imposed under separate legislation, ie the Development Act, will continue in force.

There continues to be some uncertainty as to what amounts to an "entertainment condition" and we understand that the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner will not be proactive in amending licences at this stage.

Seemingly, we can no longer rely with any confidence on the terms and conditions referred to on the face of the Liquor Licence. The practical effect is that notwithstanding any restriction on the face of the liquor licence, licensees are likely to be able to conduct entertainment at any time on the licensed premises but subject always to any council or other approvals.

Licensees should take great care to not simply ignore complying with what they consider to be "entertainment conditions" or providing any entertainment they see fit, as to do so could result in activity contrary to the Liquor Licensing Act and Development Act and leave them open to disciplinary action. 

If there are conditions on your licence governing entertainment that are concerning, we suggest you contact us.

Sundays and Public Holidays: 'same-same' but different

The previous distinctions for Sunday and public holiday trade have been amended.

Restaurants & caterers operating under SCLs are freed up, by right, to trade on Sundays between 8pm to midnight.

Whilst some Restaurants may be authorised to trade '24/7', there will remain a restriction on service of liquor without a meal on all Restaurant Licences between 5am-8am from Sunday night into Monday morning.

All licensees are entitled to trade on Good Friday and Easter Saturday as if those days were any other Friday or Saturday.  For Christmas Day and New Years Eve, trade is authorised in accordance with the licence as it applies to the day of the week on which the holiday falls.

All licensees must of course continue to comply with their council approvals. For example, a restaurant that is limited by a planning condition to an 8pm close on a Sunday can't simply ignore that; they would need to apply to Council to vary, if seeking to trade later. Recent experience tells us that the apparent freeing up of hours can be confusing – if you are at all unsure about the impact on your licence, you can contact us.

Other matters

There are some other changes to the Act now in force such as exemptions for low risk businesses (such as hairdressers and jewellers) and a harsher regime for anyone supplying liquor to anyone under 18.  However most of the changes that affect Restaurants and Caterers are yet to be implemented. Wallmans Lawyers will keep Restaurants and Caterers informed.

If you would like further information on any issue covered in this article, please contact one of our specialist hospitality practitioners below.


The content of this newsletter is for general information purposes only and should in no way be treated as formal legal advice.