Recent Changes To NSW Liquor Laws

The NSW Government in the month of October has brought in a raft of liquor law reforms affecting licensees across NSW.

SMALL BARS

Some of the changes are a welcome benefit for small bars in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross whereby drink restrictions post- midnight have been removed for venues with small bar licenses in this area.

The changes in summary are as follows:

  • any drink containing more than 50% spirits or liquor has now been removed.
  • one bottle of wine per person after midnight restriction has been removed.
  • Four drinks per person between the hours of midnight and 2am and the two drinks per person limit after 2am have been removed
  • small bars can sell cocktails which are not advertised on a set menu
  • Most of these changes will allow the very skilful bartenders across the state to showcase their talents.THREE STRIKES SCHEMEAs well as changes to the small bars, the three strikes disciplinary scheme after being reviewed by the government it is now been modified to make strikes that were initially incurred and placed on the actual liquor license will now be against the particular licensee or approved manager.

Under the new organisation being The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, all strikes will be determined by this organisation rather than a first strike being automatic or a second strike being determined by the Secretary of the Department of Industry.

In addition to that change, breaches of minor license conditions will not trigger consideration of whether a strike should be imposed in future. Applications can be made to the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority for a strike to be removed after 6 months based on improved management of the license premises and compliance with current liquor laws. In addition to that, all strikes are reviewable by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

As well as those changes the authority will also be able to consider imposing new escalating remedial actions in relation to a licensee or manager who commits a strike offence. These remedial actions may be a requirement to undertake training after a first strike, disqualification from holding the position of licensee after a third strike and also will hold the licensee or approved manager responsible for serious breaches of liquor laws as oppose to previously impacting the owner and operator and the value of their properties.

As a welcoming note existing strikes on venues will be removed when these revised laws come into effect so that a smooth transition to these revise arrangements for the scheme will be easily adaptable.

MINORS SCHEME

The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority also now will determine the suspension of a license under the Minors Sanction Scheme on a first offence rather than previously being the Secretary of the Department of Industry. This decision will be reviewable by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal in future.

REGISTERED CLUBS

Also note that the three strikes scheme applies differently to registered clubs. Clubs are different to privately owned venues. They are community owned and cannot be bought and sold in the same way and therefore have not faced the same financial impacts from incurring a strike.

Therefore current rules will continue for clubs who would still not have their license cancelled after third strike but rather can be required to remove their club secretary or manager who have incurred those strikes.

For more information on the three strikes, the minor sanctions scheme and also changes to the CBD and Kings Cross licensed venues, please contact Matthew Williams at our office.