Part 1: The foundations of best practice

1.1       The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 (SSAA, “the Act”) governs your role in the alcohol licensing process.  This section provides an overview for regulatory agencies of the Act and alcohol licensing processes.

Snapshot of this section

SSAA aims to minimise harm from alcohol by managing the way it’s sold, supplied and consumed.

SSAA provides for community input to local alcohol licensing decisions.

Two bodies make decisions on alcohol licensing:

  1. District Licensing Committees (DLCs), which are administered by local councils and consider and decide on all applications for alcohol licences within their local areas
  2. the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA), which deals with most enforcement actions and also decides appeals against decisions of DLCs.

 

This section covers:

  1. The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 and its significance
  2. The key features of the Act
  3. The object of the Act
  4. The Act aims to increase community involvement
  5. District Licensing Committees (DLCs)
  6. The process for issuing alcohol licences
  7. Your role in the licensing process
  8. The Act contains mandatory and discretionary conditions for licences

 

1.1.1 The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 and its significance

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 (the Act) put in place a new system of control over the sale and supply of alcohol.

The Act aims to improve New Zealand’s drinking culture and minimise the harm caused by excessive drinking. The object of the Act is the safe and responsible sale, supply and consumption of alcohol and the minimisation of harm caused by its excessive or inappropriate use.

This is different from previous legislation, where the object of the Sale of Liquor Act 1989 was limited to establishing a “reasonable system of control” over the sale and supply of liquor in order to “reduce liquor abuse”.

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 represents a shift from a more liberal licensing regime to a stricter one aimed at reducing the harm to the community from excessive alcohol consumption. Councils are specifically empowered to adopt local alcohol policies that decision-making bodies must have regard to when considering licence applications.

 

1.1.2 The key features of the Act

The Act contains a number of new measures to achieve its object.  It:

  • increases the ability of communities to have a say about alcohol licensing in their local area
  • allows local-level decision making for all licence applications through district licensing committees (DLCs)
  • introduces new criteria for issuing licences
  • requires decision makers to consider the effects of renewal or issue of a licence on the amenity and good order of the locality
  • requires the consent of a parent or guardian before supplying alcohol to a minor
  • requires anyone who supplies alcohol to under 18-year-olds to do so responsibly
  • strengthens the rules around the types of stores allowed to sell alcohol
  • introduces maximum default trading hours for licensed premises
  • restricts supermarket and grocery store alcohol displays to a single area
  • introduces a risk-based licensing regime in which fees reflect risk factors of the specific premises.

 

1.1.3 The object of the Act

The object of the Act is that “the sale, supply, and consumption of alcohol should be undertaken safely” and “the harm caused by the excessive or inappropriate consumption of alcohol should be minimised” (s 4(1)).

The Act defines “the harm caused by the excessive or inappropriate consumption of alcohol” (s 4(2)) as including:

(a) “any crime, damage, death, disease, disorderly behaviour, illness, or injury, directly or indirectly caused, or directly or indirectly contributed to, by the excessive or inappropriate consumption of alcohol; and

(b) any harm to society generally or the community, directly or indirectly caused, or directly or indirectly contributed to, by any crime, damage, death, disease, disorderly behaviour, illness, or injury of a kind described in paragraph (a)”.

Importantly, the object of the Act relates to the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol; and the definition of ‘harm’ relates to inappropriate or excessive consumption. DLCs are able to consider the effects of the consumption of alcohol purchased from a premises even where the alcohol is consumed elsewhere. This is particularly relevant for off-licence applications. 

 

1.1.4 The Act aims to increase community involvement

One of the main aims of the Act is to give communities more involvement and visibility.

The Act contains measures that allow communities to participate in decision making by having local councillors and community members decide most licence and manager’s certificate applications (through DLCs).

Members of the public can object to licence applications on more grounds than under the previous Act. Communities can also contribute to local alcohol policies (LAPs). 

A LAP is a set of rules made by a council in consultation with its community about the sale and supply of alcohol in its local area. LAPs are developed under the Act. DLCs must have regard to any relevant LAP in all their decisions about alcohol licences. If they consider that the issue of a licence, or the consequences of the issue of a licence, would be inconsistent with a LAP they can refuse the licence or issue it subject to conditions. You can get further information on local alcohol policies here.

In addition, the Local Government (Alcohol Reform) Amendment Act 2012 makes changes to alcohol control bylaws (commonly known as liquor bans). The Act gives councils the power to make alcohol control bylaws covering areas such as school grounds, private car parks and other private spaces that the public has legitimate access to.

 

1.1.5 District Licensing Committees (DLCs)

DLC are set up under the Act and are administered by local councils. They’re independent decision-making bodies. Within their local areas, DLCs decide applications for:

  • new on-, off-, club and special licences
  • renewals of on-, off- and club licences
  • new and renewed manager’s certificates
  • variations of licence conditions
  • enforcement action for special licences.

 

The make-up of a DLC

Each DLC is made up of a chairperson (who can be either a councillor or a commissioner) and two members appointed from a list of members approved by the council.

The committee members have experience relevant to alcohol licensing matters (and can include elected members of the council). A commissioner is someone who is not a councillor but has the required knowledge, skill and experience relating to alcohol licensing, and is appointed under the Act.

The members must not be people who could be biased due to their current involvement in the alcohol industry, and for each hearing there’s a process to check that no one on a DLC has any conflict of interest.

 

DLCs are independent decision makers

The role of the DLC is to consider and decide licence applications. This includes listening to evidence and arguments for and against applications and making decisions on them.

The DLC is an independent and impartial body that makes its decisions by considering the reports and evidence presented to it against the criteria in the Act and any relevant case law. While the committee is administered by the council, and may include councillors, it makes its decisions independently of the council, according to the provisions of the Act.

 

DLCs can hold hearings

If there are any public objections to a licence application or opposition from reporting agencies, or the DLC decides that it wishes to call a hearing, the applicant is invited to attend a DLC hearing.

Hearings are reasonably formal so that applications are dealt with consistently and fairly, and all parties are given a fair opportunity to present their cases. DLCs have powers under the Act to require documents to be provided and summon (ie, require attendance by) witnesses. Hearings are usually held at council offices, although the chairperson can decide to hold them somewhere else.

DLC hearings are open to the public, and the news media may be present. Sometimes the committee will decide to exclude the public from parts of the hearing, or limit the public release of information eg, for commercial or privacy reasons.

Depending on the nature of the case, a hearing can last anywhere from half an hour to a full day or several days. While all DLCs follow the same basic processes, each operates slightly differently. Some are less formal, operating more like a meeting, while others are more formal and operate more like a court.

 

1.1.6 Your role in the licensing process

As a licensing inspector, Police Officer, Medical Officer of Health or delegate, your role is to provide the committee with information on the applications before them. 

The object of the Act is that the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol are undertaken safely and the harm caused by excessive or inappropriate use of alcohol is minimised.

The role of a DLC under the Act is to consider and decide on applications for alcohol licences and manager’s certificates. This includes listening to evidence and arguments for and against applications and making decisions on them, in accordance with the Act.

The information you provide is critical to the committee’s ability to make well-informed decisions on licence applications. The committee members cannot use their own knowledge in deciding an application (except that gathered during a site visit). They can only make decisions based on the evidence and submissions they receive.  

Even if you do not oppose the application, you must be prepared to provide any information requested by the Committee and make yourself available to attend hearings.

 

1.1.7 The Act contains criteria for assessing applications

DLCs and ARLA have to consider a range of criteria when deciding licence applications.  These criteria are set out in the Act. 

This sub-section sets out the criteria for issuing different types licences. It sets out what decision makers cannot take into account.  It provides information on amenity and good order, which decision makers must have regard to, and on the regulations which underpin the Act.

Relevant case law and ARLA practice notes and guides provide information on how the criteria should be applied.  

 

Criteria for issuing on-, off- or club licences

When deciding whether to issue an on-, off- or club licence, a DLC or ARLA must have regard to (ss 105 and 106):

  • the object of the Act
  • the suitability of the applicant
  • any relevant provisions in any local alcohol policy that exists and is in force
  • the proposed days and hours of sale
  • the design and layout of the premises
  • whether the applicant is engaged in, or proposes to engage in, the sale of goods other than alcohol, low-alcohol refreshments, non-alcoholic refreshments, and food; and, if so, which goods
  • the provision of other services
  • how the amenity and good order of the area would be affected if the licence were or were not granted (see further detail below)
  • whether the applicant has appropriate systems, staff and training to comply with the law
  • any matters in reports by the Police, the licensing inspector or the Medical Officer of Health.

 

Criteria for renewing on-, off- or club licences

When deciding whether to renew an on-, off- or club licence, a DLC or ARLA must have regard to (s 131):

  • the matters set out above in (s 105) apart from those relating to amenity and good order.

 

Criteria for issuing special licences

When deciding whether to issue a special licence, a DLC or ARLA must have regard to (s 142):

  • the object of the Act
  • the nature of the particular event (specifically the sale of goods other than non-alcohol and low-alcohol drinks, and food, and the provision of other services)
  • the suitability of the applicant
  • any relevant local alcohol policy that exists and is in force
  • whether the amenity and good order of the area would be affected if the licence were or were not granted (see further detail below)
  • the proposed days and hours of sale
  • the design and layout of the premises
  • the provision of other services
  • whether the applicant has appropriate systems, staff and training to comply with the law
  • any areas of the premises that the applicant proposes should be designated as restricted or supervised
  • any steps the applicant plans to take to ensure that the requirements of the Act relating to the sale and supply of alcohol to prohibited persons are observed
  • the applicant’s proposals relating to the sale and supply of non-alcoholic drinks and food, low-alcohol drinks, and the provision of help with, or information about, alternative transport from the premises
  • any matters in reports by the Police, the licensing inspector or the Medical Officer of Health.

 

What decision makers can’t consider

The decision makers cannot take into account the impacts of the new or renewed licence on business conducted under any other licence. This makes it clear that the potential impacts of competition on another licensee are not a relevant consideration.

 

Amenity and good order

DLCs and ARLA must have regard to amenity and good order when deciding whether to grant a new licence or renew an existing one. 

For a new licence they must consider whether granting the application would reduce the amenity and good order of the locality to more than a minor extent (s 105(1)(h)). For a renewal they have to consider whether declining to renew the licence would increase the amenity and good order of the locality by more than a minor extent (s 131(1)(b)).

‘Amenity and good order’ is described in the Act as the extent to which, and the ways in which, the locality in which the premises is situated is pleasant and agreeable (s 5).

In deciding whether amenity and good order would be reduced or increased by more than a minor extent, the decision makers must take into account (s 106):

  • current, and possible future, levels of noise, nuisance and vandalism
  • the number of premises for which licences of the kind concerned are already held
  • the compatibility of the proposed use with the purposes for which land near the premises is used.

 

Regulations

The Act is supported by regulations.  The regulations provide the technical details that underpin the Act and may be subject to frequent change.  

 

1.1.8 The Act contains mandatory and discretionary conditions for licences

The Act sets out both mandatory and discretionary conditions for the different types of licences. These are outlined here. 

 

Conditions for on-licences and club licences

Mandatory conditions

The DLC must ensure that every on-licence and club licence it issues is issued subject to conditions stating the (s 110(2)):

  • days on which and the hours during which alcohol may be sold and supplied
  • fees payable for the licensing of the premises concerned if there are regulations in force under this Act empowering the DLC to determine different levels of licensing fees for premises of different kinds, as prescribed by the regulations
  • place or places on the premises at which drinking water is to be freely available to customers while the premises are open for business.

In deciding the conditions for issuing a licence, the DLC may have regard to the site of the premises in relation to neighbouring land use.

Discretionary conditions

The DLC may issue an on-licence or club licence subject to conditions such as those (s 110(1)):

  • prescribing steps to be taken by the licensee to ensure that the provisions of this Act relating to the sale or supply of alcohol to prohibited persons are observed
  • prescribing steps to be taken by the licensee to ensure that the provisions of this Act relating to the management of the premises concerned are observed
  • prescribing the people or kinds of person to whom alcohol may be sold or supplied
  • imposing one-way door restrictions/policies
  • requiring a manager to be on duty in the case of a club licence or an endorsed on-licence.

 

Conditions for off-licences

Mandatory conditions

The DLC must ensure that every off-licence it issues is subject to conditions that state (s 116(2)):

  • the days on which and the hours during which alcohol may be sold or delivered
  • the fees payable for the licensing of the premises concerned if there are regulations in force under this Act empowering the DLC to determine different levels of licensing fees for premises of different kinds, as prescribed by the regulations
  • a place or places (stated directly or by description) on the premises at which drinking water is to be freely available to customers while alcohol is being supplied free as a sample on the premises.

In deciding the conditions described above, the DLC may have regard to the site of the premises in relation to neighbouring land use.

Discretionary conditions

The DLC may issue an off-licence subject to conditions such as those (s 116(1)):

  • prescribing steps to be taken by the licensee to ensure that the provisions of the Act relating to the sale and supply of alcohol to prohibited persons are observed
  • prescribing the people or kinds of person to whom alcohol may be sold or supplied
  • relating to the kind or kinds of alcohol that may be sold or delivered on or from the premises, in the case of premises where (in the opinion of the DLC) the principal business carried on is not the manufacture or sale of alcohol.

 

Other discretionary conditions

Under (s 117), the DLC may issue any licence subject to any reasonable conditions not inconsistent with the Act.

 

Conditions for special licences

Mandatory conditions

The DLC must ensure that every special licence is subject to conditions that state the (s 147(3)):

days on which and the hours during which alcohol may be sold or delivered
place or places on the premises at which drinking water is to be freely available to customers while the event (or any of the events) is taking place.

In deciding conditions, the DLC concerned may have regard to the site of the premises in relation to neighbouring land use.

Discretionary conditions

The DLC concerned may issue a special licence subject to conditions. The DLC must give the parties an opportunity to be heard on the conditions where these are different from those in the application. It may impose conditions such as those (s 147(1)):

  • prescribing steps to ensure that the provisions relating to the sale of alcohol to prohibited persons are observed
  • prescribing the people or kinds of person to whom alcohol may be sold or supplied
  • relating to the kind or kinds of alcohol that may be sold or delivered on or from the premises
  • requiring the provision of food for consumption on the premises concerned
  • requiring low-alcohol beverages to be available for sale and supply
  • requiring non-alcoholic beverages to be available for sale and supply
  • requiring assistance with or information about alternative forms of transport from the premises concerned to be available
  • requiring the exclusion of the public from the premises concerned
  • requiring alcohol to be sold and supplied on the premises concerned only in containers of certain descriptions (or not to be sold in certain types of containers)
  • requiring the filing of returns relating to alcohol sold pursuant to the licence
  • imposing any conditions of a kind subject to which any on-, off- or club licences may be issued
  • imposing any reasonable conditions that, in the committee’s opinion, are not inconsistent with the Act.

 

Additional requirements for large-scale events

If, in the opinion of the DLC, an application for a special licence relates to a large-scale event, the DLC may require the applicant to (s 143):

  • provide the committee with an Alcohol Management Plan (AMP) describing how the applicant proposes to deal with matters such as security, monitoring, interaction with local residents, and public health concerns
  • provide the committee with a certificate issued by the territorial authority stating that the proposed use of the premises meets the requirements of the Resource Management Act 1991 and of the Building Code
  • liaise with the Police and the territorial authority on planning for the event.

The DLC may also have regard to whether, and how well, the applicant has complied with any requirement relating to an AMP or planning, and whether the Police and the territorial authority are satisfied with any liaison that has taken place.

View templates for conditions for different types of licences