2.3.1 Legal requirements for Step 3: what the Act says

Who can make decisions on applications

A district licensing committee (DLC) may decide any application for a licence (s 104), renewal (s 130) or manager’s certificate (s 221). With the leave of the chair of ARLA, the DLC may refer an application to ARLA for a decision. The DLC must give ARLA the complete file for any application to be decided by ARLA (ss 104, 130 and 221).

When hearings are required

Where an objection has been filed, the DLC must hold a hearing unless (s 202):

  • the application is withdrawn, or
  • the DLC believes the objection is vexatious or based on grounds outside the scope of the Act, or
  • the objector does not require a public hearing.

The full DLC takes part in the hearing.

A public hearing is not technically required where there is only agency opposition but no public objection to an application for a licence or manager’s certificate. However, an agency can appeal any subsequent decision if they feel that their right to be heard was not given.

Notification of hearings

The DLC must give at least 10 working days’ notice of the hearing to the applicant, each objector, the Police, the inspector and the Medical Officer of Health.

Selection of the DLC for the hearing

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 (s 189). 

The committee members must have experience relevant to alcohol licensing matters and can include elected members of the council (s 192(2)). 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 (s 193(1),(2) and (3)).

For each hearing, there is a process to check that none of the committee members has any conflict of interest (s 192(5)).

Each council decides a process for determining which list members will sit on each DLC for each of its hearings (s 192).

You can get more information about how members are selected for hearings in Part 1 of this guide.


A person may object to the granting of a new licence or licence renewal if they have a ‘greater interest’ in the application than the public generally (s 102(1)). The DLC determines who is a valid objector based on the information that the objector provides. 

Back to 2.3 Step 3 - Hearing preparation

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.