Australia: Liquor laws in NSW for the supply or sale of alcohol

Have you wondered if you need a liquor licence for the supply or sale of alcohol? Read on to find out if your business is aware of its obligations in complying with relevant liquor laws.

Who needs a liquor licence?

The sale of liquor in NSW generally requires a liquor licence. Bed and Breakfasts, retirement villages, nursing homes, hospitals, or sales by a not-for profit, are generally exempt, provided that each person involved in the sale or supply of liquor has completed an approved Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) course and holds a recognised RSA Certificate.

Are you eligible to be a licensee?

Prior to granting a liquor licence the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) must consider the following:

  • Is the applicant a 'fit and proper person'?

As of 15 December 2014, ILGA must determine whether an applicant can demonstrate that they are a 'fit and proper person' before granting a licence. Considerations include:

  • Whether the prospective licensee is of reputable character, displaying honesty and integrity and;
  • Whether the prospective licensee is competent to uphold the responsibilities of the business.

The ILGA assumes that an applicant is not a 'fit and proper person' if there are reasonable grounds to believe, based on information provided by the Commissioner of Police, that the applicant:

  • is a member of, or
  • is a close associate of, or
  • regularly associates with one or more members of a declared organisation within the meaning of the Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Act 2012, and that the relationship would create reasonable suspicion of improper conduct and likely further criminal activity if the licence is granted.

Does the applicant pass the National Criminal History Check?

An essential part of any Liquor Licence application is a National Criminal History Check which helps the ILGA to determine if the applicant is a 'fit and proper person.'

What is the role of a Licensee?

Being a Licensee brings great responsibilities, including:

  • having a valid Responsible Service of Alcohol Certificate
  • making sure staff hold a current Responsible Service of Alcohol Certificate
  • being able to produce competency cards of staff when asked to by Police or Compliance Officers
  • ensuring staff practise responsible service of alcohol
  • making sure the premise doesn't operate contrary to the licence granted (such as operating within trading hours and abiding by 'lock outs').

What type of Liquor Licences can be applied for?

There are currently seven liquor licence categories in New South Wales. The most common types are:

  • Hotel Licences, providing your conditions allow for it, can permit the sale of takeaway or packaged liquor. Premises with this licence must be open to the public during standard hours – 5.00am to midnight, from Monday to Saturday, and 10.00am to 10.00pm on Sundays, however an extension of hours may be granted.
  • Small Bar Licences allow for alcohol to be sold and consumed on the premises with a maximum of 60 patrons permitted on the premises during liquor trading hours. Standard trading hours for a small bar premises are midday to midnight. Subject to additional conditions, these hours may extend from 10.00am to 5.00am.
  • Packaged Liquor Licences allow the sale of takeaway liquor, with or without charge, and simultaneously prohibit consumption on the premises. Standard trading hours are 5.00am to 10.00pm, from Monday to Saturday, and 10.00am to 10.00pm on Sundays. Extended trading hours may be permitted for Sundays only, allowing sale of liquor from 5.00am to 10.00pm. Liquor sales are prohibited Good Friday and Christmas Day.
  • On-premises Licences cater for a variety of venues including function centres, restaurants, public entertainment venues, on-board vessels and tertiary institutions. This type of licence is flexible and can be modified to suit the needs of the business. Standard trading hours for an on-premises licence are 5.00am to midnight, from Monday to Saturday, and 10.00am to 10.00pm on Sunday. Extended trading hours may be granted at the discretion of ILGA.

What are the most common types of liquor licence infringements?

Infringements under the Liquor Act NSW 2007 vary in the degree of punishment for the licensee. The most common breaches (and related penalties) are:

  • acting contrary to License obtained - 100 Penalty units - $11,000
  • permitting intoxication and violent incidents in venue - 100 penalty units - $11,000
  • allowing employees to supply/sell alcohol to intoxicated persons - 100 penalty units -$11,000
  • permitting sale of prohibited drugs or plants - 50 penalty units - $5,500
  • sale/supply of alcohol to a minor – 100 penalty units - $11,000

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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