2.1.2 Information on Step 1
Councils should have comprehensive, accurate information on their websites to support applicants with their applications. Some applicants may contact the council to discuss their application. Many will lodge their application without input from the council, the inspector, the Police or the Medical Officer of Health.
The inspector might offer the applicant a pre-application meeting if an application is complex or it will help clarify or resolve issues before the application is formally lodged. Depending on the nature of the application, it may be worth having the Police and the Medical Officer of Health or their delegate attend the meeting.
The application is received
The council receives all licence applications. The secretary of the district licensing committee will check that the application is complete, formally acknowledge receipt of the application and then forward it to the inspector, the Police and the Medical Officer of Health together with each document filed with it.
The agencies make an initial assessment of the application
The three agencies must inquire into applications based on the assessment criteria set out in the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. Depending on the specifics of the licence application, the agencies may meet to identify any information missing from the application.
The inspector may then:
- contact the applicant to request additional information
- seek a meeting with the applicant to gather additional information or discuss any issues with the application.
The agencies inquire into the application
There are two types of applications which statutory agencies are required to inquire into – alcohol licences and manager’s certificates. The statutory agencies have different roles in inquiring into, and reporting on, applications:
- An application for a new or renewed alcohol licence involves the licensing inspector, the Police and the Medical Officer of Health or their delegate. The inspector must always file a report (whether or not they object). The Police and the Medical Officer of Health must file a report if they have any matters in opposition, but are not otherwise obliged to file. If no report is received from the Police or the Medical Officer of Health within 15 working days of the application being sent to them, the DLC may assume that these agencies do not oppose the application (s 103(4)).
- An application for a new or renewed manager’s certificate involves the licensing inspector and the Police only.
- An application for a temporary authority involves the licensing inspector and the Police only (see ARLA Practice Direction #1).
The public is notified of the application
Once the applicant has provided all the necessary information, they must publicly notify their application (generally for 10 days, though not in all cases). Notice must be placed in a newspaper nominated by the secretary of the DLC or on an internet site nominated by the secretary, or both. A copy of the notice must also be placed on the premises to which it relates. The detailed requirements for public notification are outlined in Part 7 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Regulations.
One of the key drivers of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 was to improve community input into alcohol licensing decisions. Part of this is helping to ensure that the community is supported to participate in the hearing process.
What the agencies can do to support community involvement
Councils, Public Health Units and the Police can play an important role in supporting community members to participate in the licensing and hearing process.
While the individual Police officer, inspector and Medical Officer of Health (or their representative) must remain neutral, others in their organisations can assist members of the community to understand the process and what is expected of objectors during a hearing.
While the statutory agencies can support the community to participate in the licensing process, they must maintain their independence and ensure they fulfil their statutory obligations. They cannot actively promote positions to the community or draft their submissions. However, they can:
provide publicly available information to the community about the application, the licensing process, and where to go for information
provide publicly available information to community members who have objected so that appearing before the committee is less daunting
attend a community meeting to provide information about the application and the licensing process.
More information and resources to support community participation can be found on this website.
The agencies must report community objections to the DLC
The High Court made specific comments on the importance of the agencies reporting on community concerns in Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board v Joban Enterprises Ltd  NZHC 1406; NZAR 717. This is usually cited as the ‘Joban’ case. This case refers to the Sale of Liquor Act 1989, but the judgment is applicable to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 and to all the agencies who now report to the DLC.
The judgment indicates that the inspector, the Police and the Medical Officer of Health need to look into community concerns and provide information on them to the DLC or ARLA. For example, if the community has concerns about late night drinking in a neighbourhood carpark, and the associated noise, litter and disturbance, the agencies should investigate these concerns and provide relevant information to the DLC or ARLA.
The Police and the Medical Officer of Health need to lodge their reports with the DLC within 15 working days of receiving the application. Public objections need to be with the DLC within 15 working days of the public notice of the application. This means the Police and Medical Officer of Health do not have the opportunity to view community objections before lodging their report. Their responses to community concerns may need to be through a supplementary report to the DLC. Visit the Toolbox for an example of a minute on reporting timelines.
The information contained in this online guide is intended as a general guide.
While reasonable measures have been taken to ensure that the information is current and accurate as at October 2019, the Health Promotion Agency cannot accept any liability for any inaccuracy, omission or deficiency in relation to the information. It is not legal advice and you should not rely on anything contained in this guide in any legal proceedings. The information provided does not replace or alter the laws of New Zealand, and you should consult the legislation and obtain your own legal and professional advice, as appropriate. The Health Promotion Agency will not accept liability for any action taken in reliance on anything contained in this online guide.