Liquor Licensing

The Liquor Licensing lawyers at Dwyer Durack provide technical advice on all aspects of liquor licensing and hospitality law. The team is headed by Peter Fraser, who has been active in representing the interests of members of the liquor industry since 1997.

Peter has represented the Australian Hotels Association, the Liquor Store Association and a wide range of licensees, and new applicants within the licensing industry, throughout Western Australia. Peter also regularly lectures at the accredited training course conducted by the Australian Hotels Association.

Do you require a liquor license for a restaurant, hotel, entertainment venue, nightclub, event, wholesale business or production? Our team of experienced Liquor Licensing lawyers can assist you through the entire application process.

If you require advise in respect of applying for a license or, an existing liquor license, contact our Liquor Licensing team today.

We have extensive experience in:

  • The preparation of Public Interest Assessment Submissions
  • Representing members of the industry being investigated, or prosecuted, by the Liquor Enforcement Unit
  • Applications for and objections to new liquor licenses
  • Transfer of Liquor Licenses, preparation and review of lease agreements, sale of business agreements and partnership agreements
  • Applications for extended trading permits, variations to license conditions and alteration/redefinitions
  • Representing licensees the subject of a s117 complaint, s64 inquiry or s95 complaint
  • Appearing before the Liquor Commission of WA

Frequently Asked Questions

01
Why do I need a Lawyer for my Liquor Licensing matter?

Liquor Licensing is a technical and niche area of law, and there are many hurdles which can daunt even experienced Licensees, Publicans and Hoteliers.  Our liquor team strives to make the Liquor licensing process as easy and stress-free as possible for our clients.

Engaging a solicitor to act on your behalf takes the pressure off you, and leaves you free to focus on running and developing your business.  Our lawyers will explain every step of the process and provide advice and guidance as your matter proceeds.

Over more than 30 combined years of practice in Liquor Licensing and Hospitality Law, our lawyers and paralegals have developed a comprehensive understanding of the relevant legislation and requirements, and know the Liquor Licensing processes inside and out.

Whilst there are “non lawyers” who market themselves as “Liquor Consultants” and “Hospitality Management Advisors”, engaging a qualified Liquor Licensing Lawyer provides you with the peace of mind that your representatives are legally trained professionals with in-depth knowledge and understanding of the liquor legislation and liquor regulations who are qualified to provide legal advice that you can trust.

02
What is a PIA?

The Public Interest Assessment Submission (“PIA”) is the largest and most substantial part of any Liquor Application.

The Liquor Control Act 1988 provides that, in any liquor application, the overriding consideration for the Licensing Authority is whether the grant of the Application is in the Public Interest.  A PIA should include all the information addressing the Public Interest legislative criteria that the Licensing Authority will be required to give consideration to.

Prospective Applicants often say “I don’t know where to start”, or “I don’t have time to do a PIA”. Preparing a PIA can be a daunting and time consuming aspect of any application.

A deficient PIA can mean rejection of an Application in some cases, leading to a three (3) year period during which neither the unsuccessful Applicant or any other person is permitted to re-apply for that class of liquor licence at that location.  This can mean the difference between the success or failure of a business.

It is important to get the PIA right, and to address all of the Public Interest considerations in the Liquor Control Act. Our lawyers can draft Public Interest Submissions tailored to your Venue to give your Application the best possible chance of approval.

03
Can I reapply if my liquor licence application is refused?

You are not allowed to apply for the same type of licence for a period of 3 years after your application is rejected.

This is why it is so important to make sure that your application (including PIA) is prepared properly on the first occasion and you have all the necessary evidence to support it.

A properly prepared, substantial and comprehensive Application gives your Application the best possible prospect of being granted a Liquor Licence.

04
What might impact my ability to get a Liquor Licence?

The grant or refusal of a liquor licence depends on a number of matters which are unrelated to the requirements in the Liquor Control Act.

These can include:

  • Local Government regulations relating to:
    • Planning
    • Zoning
    • Health; or
    • Noise.
  • Neighbouring businesses and residents (Objections)

Our lawyers can assist you to identify all potential issues which may impact upon your prospects of being granted a liquor licence, provide advice in relation to how to overcome or address any risks, and provide guidance at every step of the Application process.

This can include liaising with the Local Government regarding the Planning and Health considerations of your potential or existing Venue, to give your Venue the best possible chance of being granted a Liquor Licence.

05
Why are “Trading Conditions” important?

If granted, your Liquor Licence will be subject to several conditions. Some conditions are standard, and imposed automatically by virtue of the operation of legislation or policy.

Other conditions imposed can be tailored or directed at your Venue particularly, given the manner in which you have indicated to the Licensing Authority that you intend to trade.

Trading conditions can greatly influence the manner in which you can trade under your licence. By way of example, a condition imposing a prohibition on loud music can restrain you from hosting live bands and music or indeed even playing amplified music at all.

It is therefore important to give serious consideration to the conditions on your licence, and, if appropriate, indicate early to the Licensing Authority any proposed conditions worded in such a manner so as to permit you to trade in the manner you wish, if granted.

It is possible to apply to add, remove or vary trading conditions once imposed, but this can only be done if there is appropriate evidence demonstrating that the variation sought is in the public interest. Proposing reasonable and acceptable trading conditions early can circumvent the need to later seek to vary unworkable trading conditions.

Proposing certain reasonable and workable trading conditions early can also potentially minimise the likelihood of Interventions or Objections being lodged against your Application.

06
What happens if the Licensee or a staff member is charged with an offence under the Liquor Control Act?

The Liquor Control Act provides for a number of offences associated with breaching the obligations imposed pursuant to the Act, which can be investigated by either the Licensing Authority, or the WA Police (usually through a specific branch known as the Liquor Enforcement Unit (“LEU’)).

A charge alleging a breach of the Act can be dealt with in one of two ways:

  1. Infringement


    A Liquor Infringement can be issued by either a Liquor Inspector (an agent of the Licensing Authority responsible for ensuring compliance with the Liquor Control Act), or by a Police Officer for a breach of the Liquor Control Act.

    An infringement must be issued within 21 days of the alleged breach of the Act.

    Paying an infringement does not constitute admission of guilt of the alleged offence, but can be relied upon in subsequent disciplinary proceedings (if any).

    A liquor infringement is similar to traffic infringement such as a speeding fine, in that it does not appear on your criminal record if simply paid.

    As to the long-term effects of an infringement, see our page Investigations and Disciplinary Proceedings.

It is possible to elect to have an alleged breach dealt with by way of prosecution (see below).

  1. Prosecution


    The Police can also institute a criminal prosecution of a Licensee, Approved Manager, staff member, or Director of a Licensee in certain circumstances. Such charges are generally heard by the Magistrates Court of Western Australia, and are considered criminal proceedings.

    An accused can then plead guilty or not guilty, and proceed the same way as any other criminal proceeding (sentencing, a trial etc).

    A finding or plea of guilty to a prosecution of a breach of the Liquor Control Act does constitute a criminal conviction, and will appear on your criminal history.

Consequences

There can be serious consequences as a result of a breach (or alleged breach) of the Liquor Control Act, depending on the severity of the breach and effect of the same. Even a simple breach can result in further disciplinary action being initiated by the Licensing Authority or the Police. It is therefore important to take the time to consider the implications of receiving, paying, or defending any alleged breach of the Liquor Control Act.

If you have been received notice of any alleged breach of the Liquor Control Act, contact our office to discuss today.

07
Pop-up Bars – a Snapshot

Pop-up bars have exploded in popularity in recent years. Consumers and patrons are naturally drawn to limited-duration and one-off events which are not available year-round. They’re exclusive, they’re fun, and they’re fresh and new. Patrons are always looking for the next big/underground / secret / limited / fun Venue.

If you have a great idea for a Pop-Up Bar, our lawyers can assist you to help your idea become a reality. Dwyer Durack can help identify the steps you need to take to get the relevant approvals, deadlines for filing and the requirements you will need to satisfy the Licensing Authority of in order to be granted a limited-duration licence.

If you are a new Licensee (i.e. you do not currently hold a permanent Liquor Licence), an Occasional Licence may be your best option.

If you are an existing Licensee (i.e. you hold a liquor licence already) you may be able to apply for a sub-class of Extended Trading Permit attached to your existing Licence to host your Pop-Up Bar.

Our lawyers can guide you through the application process, no matter what stage your idea is at. Contact us today to discuss your Pop-up bar concept and help us help you make it happen.

Need Advice?

For more information, get in touch with our team of lawyers at Dwyer Durack today.