On 6 March 2008 the National Health and Medical Research
Council's (Council) Australian Guidelines To
Reduce Health Risks From Drinking Alcohol
(Guidelines) were released.
The Guidelines replace the 2001 Australian Alcohol Guidelines,
Health Risks and Benefits, and change what the Council considers to
be safe drinking practices. The 2001 Guidelines recommended
males should not consume more than four standard drinks per day
and no more than six in any one session; and
females should not consume more than two standard drinks per
day and no more than four in any one session.
The Guidelines reduce these safe consumption levels to no more
than two standard drinks per day and no more than four drinks on
any one occasion for both males and females.
How will this affect licensees?
Clubs Queensland, the Queensland Office of Liquor, Gaming and
Racing (QLGR) and the Queensland Hotel Association
(among others) all support the Code of Practice for the Responsible
Service, Supply and Promotion of Liquor
One of the purposes of the Code is to provide a universal
guideline for use by the OLGR, licensees, permittees and their
staff to identify and control the "risks associated with the
practice or promotion related to the service and supply of liquor,
and comply with the Liquor Act".
The Code states that consumption of two drinks per hour and six
drinks per day (for males) is low risk. Under the Code,
unacceptable consumption (for males) is more than four drinks per
hour or more than 11 drinks per day.
Now that the Guidelines have been endorsed by the Council, the
current standard of practice under the Code for the responsible
service of alcohol will be difficult to justify. But that is not
the only potential problem.
You will recall the upheaval in the industry when the Chevron
Hotel case held that a licensee was partly liable for injuries
suffered by an intoxicated patron. Since that decision, the High
Court of Australia has determined that patrons should take more
responsibility for their own actions when consuming alcohol.
It is possible that the Guidelines may result in:
the application of more stringent policies for the sale and
service of alcohol; and
the scope of alcohol server liability being expanded.
This may result in licensees, once again, being in the
"firing line" for the irresponsible actions of their
When considering the issue, please also consider our
article entitled "The Pendulum Swings Back: Licensee
Responsible For The Death Of A Drunk Patron".
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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