In 2016, Retired Supreme Court Judge, Tim Anderson QC, submitted his report to the review of the South Australian Liquor Licensing Act (1997). The report made 129 recommendations which were aimed at improving the regulatory system, cutting red tape, encouraging a competitive market and promoting vibrancy and a safe drinking culture.
As a result of the review, the Liquor Licensing (Liquor Review) Amendment Act 2017 was passed by the South Australian Parliament on 14 November 2017. The reforms have been split into three key stages. As part of that three stage process, Consumer and Business Affairs has launched a Transitional Liquor and Gaming Online Portal (“Online Portal”) to assist current license holders with the transition to the new liquor licences.
Changes to existing licence categories
As part of the reforms, the following categories of liquor licences are to be abolished:
- Hotel Licences;
- Limited Club Licences;
- Special Circumstances Licences;
- Producer’s Licenses;
- Retail Liquor Merchant’s Licence;
- Direct Sales Licenses;
- Wholesale Liquor Merchant’s Licences; and
- Entertainment Venue Licences.
All of the above licences will transition to new licences in November 2019 as outlined in clause 20 of Liquor Licensing (Liquor Review) Amendment Act 2017.
A further significant change involves the assessment of annual liquor license fees. Annual liquor licence fees will no longer be set on a “one fee fits all” basis. It is expected that the annual liquor license fee will instead be assessed taking into account potential risk factors and the nature of the business.
What to do now
Current licence holders are now able to access the Online Portal to review the proposed changes to their current licences. The Online Portal will enable licence holders to:
- Update their details;
- Review and accept the updated licence category; and
- Explore different options that may reduce their annual liquor licence fee.
However, the Online Portal will only permit changes to the proposed licence until 31 August 2019. After this time, licence holders will be able to review the proposed new licence but will not be able to make any changes and their licences will automatically transition to the new licence category proposed by Consumer and Business Affairs.
It is important that all current licence holders access the Online Portal before 31 August 2019 to review the proposed new licence applicable to their venue and submit any necessary changes relevant to their particular business and venue.
In particular holders of Special Circumstance licences, such as caterers, some wedding venues, such as wineries, and tasting room venues, should review their proposed new licence to ensure that their current rights are not restricted in anyway.
Any changes made via the Online Portal will come into effect when the transition occurs in November 2019.
A more detailed summary of the proposed changes can be found here.
Should you have any questions regarding the new liquor licencing laws or need to seek clarification regarding your new licence, please contact a member of our commercial law team.