Object to an alcohol licence

The law now gives communities a stronger voice when it comes to issuing licences to sell or supply alcohol. There are more options to object to a licence that affects you than has been the case in the past.

Can I object to a licence?

You can object to the granting of a new licence or the renewal of an existing licence if you have a ‘greater interest’ in the application than the public generally.

A person with a ‘greater interest’ could, for example, be someone living or working in the same street as the proposed premises, or a member of a board of trustees of a school or marae that is located nearby.

If you are a member of the public who is concerned about the general effects of alcohol in the community but who lives in another part of town and does not have a special interest in the application, it is likely that you do not meet the criterion of having ‘greater interest’ than the public generally.

If you are another licensee you may have a special interest in the application and object to the licence but any concerns about the impact of the licence application on your business will not be taken into account.

There is no cost for lodging an objection.

This guide (click on the image below)  is for people who are concerned about an application for a new or renewed alcohol licence in their community. It will help you decide whether to make an objection to a licence, and lead you through the objection and hearings process under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

What are the grounds for objection?

You can object to a liquor licence based on (but only on) any of the following criteria:

  • The object of the Act.
  • The suitability of the applicant.
  • Any relevant local alcohol policy.
  • The days and hours of sale.
  • The design and layout of premises.
  • The sale of goods other than alcohol and refreshments.
  • The provision of other services not related to the sale of alcohol and refreshments.
  • Whether amenity and good order of the area would be substantially reduced.
  • The undesirability of further licences where amenity and good order have already been reduced.
  • Whether the applicant has systems, staff and training to comply with the law
  • Any matters reported by the Police, an inspector or the Medical Officer of Health.

Further information see - Criteria for licences to sell or supply alcohol under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

The decision makers cannot take into account the impacts of the licence on a business conducted under any other licence or other matters not covered by the criteria.

How do I talk about my concerns?

In your objection you will need to link your concerns to the criteria. For example, you may be concerned that another licensed premises in your street would add to existing noise, vandalism and disturbance. You might want to talk about the current situation (eg, noise levels at night, rubbish etc.) and then your concerns about how this would be affected by a new licensed premises, or the renewal of the licence. If you have a concern about the suitability of the applicant you should have evidence that demonstrates the unsuitability of the applicant.

It is important that you are as specific as possible about the concerns you have. They must also relate to the licensed premises the application is for and its impact on your community, not just general concerns about alcohol use in New Zealand. Your objections will also be more effective if you can back them up with evidence. For example, you could note down the dates and times that there were noise disruptions or take photos of rubbish or damage that has been done associated with the licensed premises.

Who decides whether a licence will be granted?

The bodies that make decisions about licences are:

District licensing committees (DLC)

Applications are made to the local DLC, which will consider all licence applications. The DLC is administered by your local territorial authority and relevant information can be found on its website.

Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA)

ARLA is the national decision making body for licensing and deals with matters referred to it by a DLC, as well as appeals against DLC decisions.

How do I make an objection?

Your objection must be filed with the DLC within 15 working days after the first public notice about the application appears in the newspaper. The full postal address of the DLC will be included in the notification.

Your objection must be made in writing and include your full name, address and contact telephone number. You may object only in relation to matters that are able to be considered when granting a licence - the licence criteria. You should clearly set out the reasons for your objection and also state whether or not you wish to appear at any hearing. Your objection is likely to have greater effect if you attend the hearing personally and speak in support of your submission.

You can make an individual objection or participate in a written group submission, nominating one or two representatives to appear and present the objection at the hearing.

Once your objection is received, it becomes a public document and will be made available to the person applying for the licence and other people or organisations outside the DLC.

Your council website may have specific instructions about how to make an objection.

More information on the Ministry of Justice's website on making an appeal against a DLC decision.

How is the licensing decision made?

The DLC will acknowledge receipt of your objection or you may be contacted by a licensing inspector to discuss it. A copy of your objection is sent to the applicant.

Copies of the application and any objections are also sent to the Police, Medical Officer of Health (located in the local district health board) and licensing inspector (who works for the territorial authority but acts independently to enforce the Act, monitor licences and advise the DLC and ARLA on applications). Licensing inspectors must provide a report to the DLC on each licence application. The Medical Officer of Health and the Police must inquire into each application and report to the DLC on them when they have matters in opposition.

The DLC will consider all licence applications whether contested or not. If there are no objections the application may be granted without a public hearing. If there are objections a public hearing with all parties must be held. If the objection is deemed vexatious or if the applicant does not require it, a hearing may not be held.

In considering any application for a licence, a DLC and ARLA, must consider the criteria.

ARLA decisions are published on the Ministry of Justice's website.

For the database of ARLA decisions (2013 onwards).

For the database of decisions made by the Liquor Licensing Authoritiy (LLA) (before 2013).

How do I appeal a decision?

If you made an objection and you disagree with the decision you can appeal to ARLA. You need to give a notice of appeal to ARLA within 10 working days of the DLC decision being notified.

There is a cost for filing an appeal.

More information on costs.