District Licensing Committees (DLCs)

There is at least one DLC situated within each territorial authority (local council). It has the prime responsibility for issuing alcohol licences.

The DLC is deemed to be a Commission of Inquiry. It also acts provides information to ARLA. Each territorial authority must appoint one or more DLCs to manage licensing matters within its district.

Functions of the DLC include:

  • determining applications for licences, managers’ certificates and renewals (s.187(a)(b))
  • determining temporary authority applications (on/off-licences)( s.187(c))
  • varying, suspending or cancelling special licences (s.187(d))
  • referring applications to ARLA (s.187(f))
  • conducting inquiries and making reports as required by ARLA (s.187(g))
  • other functions conferred on it by any Act. (s.187(h))

A DLC is made up of a chair and two members who have terms of office up to five years.

The quorum for a DLC meeting is three members, except when licence or manager’s certificate applications have no objections or matters raised in opposition. In this case the Chair can form a quorum of one.

Local Government New Zealand has published Competency Guidelines for DLC members [PDF, 758 KB]. The guidance is high level and is intended to:

  • assist territorial authorities in the selection and appointment of DLC members
  • assist all territorial authorities in establishing their DLCs, regardless of organisation size or the number of licensing applications anticipated
  • enable territorial authorities to adapt the advice to fit local circumstances and to tailor the DLC selection process accordingly.

DLC Composition – the chair

The chair of a DLC can either be an elected member of the territorial authority, or a commissioner appointed by the chief executive, on the recommendation of the territorial authority.

A commissioner:

  • has all the functions, powers and duties of the chairperson
  • should have good standing in the community and the necessary knowledge, skill and experience relating to matters that are likely to come before the committee
  • must not have involvement, or appearance of involvement, with the alcohol industry to the extent that there would be a bias or appearance of bias
  • may not be a constable, Medical Officer of Health, inspector, or employee of a territorial authority.

A deputy chair, who must be an elected member of the territorial authority, may be appointed to deputise for the chair in the case of illness or absence from New Zealand.

Elected members of a DLC hold a semi-judicial role and must make fair and legally correct decisions. They must not be influenced by concerns that a decision may be unpopular and affect the member’s re-election prospects.

DLC Composition – members

Members of a DLC are eligible people, either community members or elected members of a territorial authority, who are selected from a list of potential DLC members with experience relevant to alcohol licensing matters.

The list of potential DLC members must not include a person who is involved with the alcohol industry or is a constable, Medical Officer of Health, a licensing inspector or an employee of the territorial authority.

Term of office

All members and the chair are appointed for a period of up to five years and can be reappointed for one or more further periods of up to five years.

A DLC member can resign at any time and can be removed for inability to perform functions, neglect, bankruptcy or misconduct.

An elected member appointed as the chair of a DLC cannot continue if they cease to be an elected member, unless they have the required competencies and are appointed as a commissioner.

More information about DLCs including guides for appearing before a DLC and a case law companion guide.