Resources » Wine Tourism Toolkit » Developing » Compliance and licensing » Liquor licensing

Liquor licensing

As a general initial comment, liquor licensing applications often take longer than some applicants might expect.  While in a number of jurisdictions efforts have been made to make the liquor licensing system more “user friendly”, it is still a tightly regulated and, in many respects, inflexible, system.

It pays to seek advice where necessary, and commence any liquor licensing application processes, well before any “deadlines” or due dates.  In a worst case, a business might be stuck, in effect, without the appropriate licence for a period of time, and be unable to sell its product.

Liquor licensing compliance - general comments

The obligations on and responsibilities of the holder of a liquor licence are broad ranging.  

For current licensees, it should go without saying that you must make sure that you are at all times operating in accordance with both the express conditions on your licence, and also with the broader obligations imposed by the liquor licensing law generally.  

The detail of the relevant obligations will vary from State to State (or Territory).  Typically, however, there are detailed requirements and obligations for the training of staff, maintenance of registers of training and compliance, the supervision of premises when open to the public, trading hours, venue capacities, and in respect of minors and intoxicated (or potentially intoxicated) patrons.

In years past, the licensing authorities (and police, local councils and other interested groups) have focussed their attention in the main on hotels, nightclubs and retail bottle shops.  

More recently, there has been an increased focus on “alcohol-related harm”, and, generally, a stricter application of compliance requirements, and we have seen an increase in the focus on other types of licensed venues, including restaurants, tourist centres, and winery-based outlets.

Penalties for failure to comply with the liquor licensing laws can be severe, and might include, for example, fines for not only a licensee company, but also the directors of the company personally, and staff involved in the commission of the breach or offence.   

Liquor licence options
State requirements
Practical challenges
Potential for civil liability
Steps to minimise risk
Ongoing issues

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