Part 2 – The steps in the licensing process

2.1       Inquiring into the application

In this first step of the licensing process, you inquire into the application and begin assessing it against the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.  You may also start working with the other regulatory agencies, gathering information and building your case.  The work you do here will form a building block for the later stages of the process.  This section provides guidance and tools for this step.

Snapshot of this section

A pre-application meeting of the agencies and the applicant can help clarify issues before the application is lodged.

You need to make an initial assessment of the application based on the assessment criteria in the SSAA. 

Inspectors must inquire into and report on all applications for alcohol licences and manager’s certificates. There is no timeframe set in the SSAA for an inspector’s report.

Police must inquire into applications for alcohol licences and manager’s certificates and provide a report within 15 days if they have matters in opposition.

The Medical Officer of Health or their delegate must inquire into applications for alcohol licences and provide a report to the committee within 15 days if they have matters in opposition.

You can play an important role in supporting community members to participate in the licensing and hearing process.

Go to toolbox

 

This step covers: 

Legal requirements - what the Act says

Best practice guidance

  1. Pre-application considerations
  2. The application is received
  3. Initial assessment of the application
  4. Your role in inquiring into applications
    1. licensing inspectors
    2. Police
    3. Medical Officer of Health or their delegate
  5. Public notification of the application
  6. Community involvement

 

Legal requirements for Step 1 - what the Act says

The statutory agencies have different roles in inquiring into, and reporting on, applications under the Act.

The role of inspectors

Inspectors:

  • must inquire into a licence application and file a report with the DLC (section 103(2)). There is no statutory time requirement on this report.
  • must inquire into an application for a manager’s certificate and file a report on the application with the DLC (section 220). There is no statutory time requirement on this report.

The role of Police

Police:

  • must inquire into a licence application, and if they have any matters in opposition to it, they must file a report with the DLC within 15 working days of receiving the application (section 103(3)).
  • must inquire into an application for a manager’s certificate, and if they have any matters in opposition to it, they must file a report with the DLC within 15 working days after receiving the application (section 220). 

The role of the Medical Officer of Health or their delegate:

The Medical Officer of Health or their delegate:

  • must inquire into a licence application, and if they have any matters in opposition to it, they must file a report with the DLC within 15 working days of receiving the application (section 103(3)).

Criteria for assessing applications

The Act sets out criteria for assessing different types of applications:

  • new licences - sections 105 and 106 
  • renewals - sections 105 and 131
  • special licences - section 142
  • manager’s certificates - sections 222 and 227.

The toolbox sets out the sections of the Act that are relevant to this step.

 

Best practice guidance for Step 1


2.1.1       Pre-application considerations

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.

 

2.1.2       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.

 

2.1.3       Initial assessment of the application

You will need to make an initial assessment of all applications you receive, based on the assessment criteria set out in the Act: 

  • new licences - sections 105 and 106 
  • renewals - sections 105 and 131
  • special licences - section 142
  • manager’s certificates - sections 222 and 227.

Depending on the specifics of the licence application, you may then meet with the other agencies and identify any information missing from the application. 

The Inspector may then:

  1. contact the applicant to request additional information
  2. seek a meeting with the applicant to gather additional information or discuss any issues with the application.

 

2.1.4       Your role in inquiring into applications

There are three types of applications which statutory agencies are required to inquire into – alcohol licences, manager’s certificates and temporary authorities. The statutory agencies have different roles in inquiring into, and reporting on, applications:

  1. An application for a new or renewed alcohol licence involves the licensing inspector, the Police and the Medical Officer of Health or their delegate.
  2. An application for a new or renewed manager’s certificate involves the inspector and the Police only.
  3. An application for a temporary authority involves the licensing inspector and the Police only.

More detailed information is provided here for:

 
Licensing inspectors

Your role when inquiring into applications for new, renewals and special licences

You must inquire into a licence application and file a report with the DLC (section 103(2)). There is no statutory time requirement on you to report.

If you have raised matters in opposition or concerns, or you are addressing matters in opposition raised by the Police or the Medical Officer of Health or their delegate, your report needs to state the reasons for any matters in opposition. For example, “I oppose this licence application because the hours are outside the national default hours and the applicant has failed five Controlled Purchase Operations in the last two years.” You will need to provide the DLC with the evidence to back up your reasoning at the hearing.

Your report should address the criteria set out in sections 105 and 106 of the Act (see Section 2.2 - Report writing for more information).

The report must be sufficient for the applicant to understand the issues to which they must respond to at a subsequent hearing (and/or in negotiation with the inspector).

Even if you don’t oppose an application, you should consider adding relevant information that you know about the premises, or the area, that may assist the DLC.

 

Your role when inquiring into applications for manager’s certificates

You must inquire into an application for a manager’s certificate and file a report on the application with the DLC.  Your report should address the criteria set out in section 222 of the Act.

 

Your role when inquiring into applications for temporary authorities

ARLA has considered the role of the inspector and Police in the granting of temporary authorities (ARLA Practice Direction #1).  ARLA determined that:

temporary authority granted in terms of section 136 of the Act confers upon the holder the same duties, obligations and liabilities as the holder of a licence. The consequences of an unsuitable person operating premises pursuant to a temporary authority could obviously be as equally undesirable as such a person holding a licence.

ARLA stated its view that the secretary of the DLC should refer any application for a temporary authority to the Police and the inspector for comment and/or report.  ARLA has directed that each DLC should develop its own procedures and timelines for reporting on temporary authorities. (see ARLA Practice Direction #1).

You must ensure that the applicant has the correct title, estate or interest in the property for the licence they are seeking (s136). 

If you have any significant concerns about the suitability of the applicant then you should oppose the application.

 

Police

Your role when inquiring into applications for new, renewals and special licenses

You must inquire into the licence application, and if you have any matters in opposition to it, you must file a report with the DLC within 15 working days of receiving the application (section 103(3)). If you do not report to the DLC within 15 working days, it may assume that the Police does not oppose the application (section 103(4)).

You have three options when responding to a licence application:

  1. The Police has no matters in opposition.
  2. The Police has matters in opposition to this application (outline these) and wishes to be heard on those matters.
  3. The Police has concerns to raise with the DLC but does not request a hearing.

If you choose not to file a s103 report, you could draft a memo to the committee stating that you have no matters in opposition. Although this is not required by the Act, it would help the DLC process unopposed applications.

If you choose to file a s103 report, your report must state the matters you have in opposition, and your reasons for opposing.  For example, “Police oppose this application because the hours are outside the national default hours and the applicant has failed five Controlled Purchase Operations in the last two years”.  You will need to provide the DLC with the evidence to back up your reasoning at the hearing.

Your report should address the criteria set out in sections 105 and 106 of the Act (see Section 2.2 - Report writing for more information).

The report must be sufficient for the applicant to understand the issues to which they must respond to at a subsequent hearing (and/or in negotiation with the inspector).

Even if you don’t oppose an application, you should consider adding relevant information that you know about the premises, or the area, that may assist the DLC.

 

Your role when inquiring into applications for manager’s certificates

As Police you must inquire into an application for a manager’s certificate, and if you have any matters in opposition, file a report on the application within 15 working days after receiving the application. Your report should address the criteria set out in section 222 of the Act.

The DLC may assume that, if no report is received within 20 working days after the application is referred to you, you have no matters in opposition to the application.

 

Your role when inquiring into applications for temporary authorities

ARLA has considered the role of the inspector and Police in the granting of temporary authorities (ARLA Practice Direction #1).  ARLA determined that:

temporary authority granted in terms of section 136 of the Act confers upon the holder the same duties, obligations and liabilities as the holder of a licence. The consequences of an unsuitable person operating premises pursuant to a temporary authority could obviously be as equally undesirable as such a person holding a licence.

ARLA stated its view that the secretary of the DLC should refer any application for a temporary authority to the Police and the inspector for comment and/or report.  ARLA has directed that each DLC should develop its own procedures and timelines for reporting on temporary authorities (see ARLA Practice Direction #1).

If you have any significant concerns about the suitability of the applicant then you should oppose the application.

 

Medical Officer of Health or their delegate

Your role when inquiring into applications for new, renewals and special licenses

You must inquire into on-, off- and club licences (new and renewals).  

You may inquire into special licences. If you have any matters in opposition to it, you must file a report within 15 working days of receiving the application (section 103(3)). If you do not report to the DLC within 15 working days, it may assume that you do not oppose the application (section 103(4)).

You have three options when responding to a licence application:

  1. The Medical Officer of Health has no matters in opposition.
  2. The Medical Officer of Health has matters in opposition to this application (outline these matters and the reasons for them) and wishes to be heard on those matters.
  3. The Medical Officer of Health has concerns to raise with the DLC but does not request a hearing.

If you choose not to file a s103 report, you could draft a memo to the DLC stating that you have no matters in opposition. Although this is not required by the Act, it would help the DLC process unopposed applications.

If you choose to file a s103 report, your report must state the matters that you have in opposition and your reasons for opposing. For example, “The Medical Officer of Health opposes this licence application because of the level of non-compliance at this premises over the last five years.” You will need to provide the DLC with the evidence to back up your reasoning at the hearing.

Your report should address the criteria set out in sections 105 and 106. (see Section 2.2 - Report writing for more information)

The report must be sufficient for the applicant to understand the issues to which they must respond to at a subsequent hearing (and/or in negotiation with the inspector).

Even if you don’t oppose an application, you should consider adding relevant information that you know about the premises, or the area, that may assist the DLC.

 

2.1.5       Public notification 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

 

2.1.6       Community involvement

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 you can do to support community involvement

You can play an important role in supporting community members to participate in the licensing and hearing process.

This can start long before a hearing, and you should take an active interest in any potential community objection as it may have important considerations for your report on the application.

As statutory agencies, you need to maintain your independence and ensure you fulfil your statutory obligations. You cannot actively promote positions to the community or draft their submissions. 

However, you 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
  • seek information relevant to the application from other staff in your organisation (for example, the inspector might seek relevant information from council housing staff if the application is for a site adjacent to a council housing block).

Who can you work with to support community involvement?

While you must remain neutral in your statutory role, others in your organisations can assist members of the community to understand the process and what is expected of objectors during a hearing.  This includes:

  • council community safety teams
  • council staff that work with young people
  • council housing staff
  • community boards
  • local health promoters
  • community police
  • neighbourhood policing teams.

Talk to some of these people about how to inform and support the communities most affected by the licence application. 

Providing information on community objections

The High Court made comments on the importance of the agencies reporting on community concerns in Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board v Joban Enterprises Ltd [2012] 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 still applies 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, then 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 s103 reports with the DLC within 15 days of receiving the application. Their responses to community concerns may need to be through a supplementary report to the DLC. Public objections need to be with the DLC within 15 days of the public notice of the application. This means the Police and the Medical Officer of Health do not have the opportunity to view community objections before lodging their report.

 

Toolbox

This website has information and resources to support community participation.

 

Step 1 - Inquiring into the application

Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 references

99        Applications to be made to licensing committee               

100     Form of application        

101     Notification requirements          

102     Objections to applications           

103     Police, Medical Officer of Health, and inspector must inquire
           into applications   

104     Who decides application for licence

105      Criteria for issue of licences

106      Considering effects of issue or renewal of licence on amenity and good order      of locality

127     Application for renewal of licence

128     Objections to renewal

129     Police, Medical Officer of Health, and inspector must inquire into applications

131      Criteria for renewal

136      Temporary authorities: on-licences and off-licences

137     Filing of applications (special licences)

139      Notification requirements (special licences)

140      Objections to applications (special licences)

141      Inquiry into applications by Police, inspector and Medical Officer of Health (special licence)

142      Criteria for issue of special licences

220      Reports (manager’s certificates)

222      Criteria for manager’s certificates