The rules around liquor licences changed in December 2013. So what do you need to be aware of?

1.    You may now need a licence for your event

Under the new Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act, more events will need liquor licences.

These include events where:

  • Alcoholic drinks are sold.
  • Attendees must reimburse the cost of alcohol.
  • Charges are paid for the event or activity (through tickets, subscriptions, entry fees, or any other form of payment).
  • Donations of any kind are made.

2.    You need to be responsible

The new rules emphasize safe drinking practices. You should now turn you mind to issues including:

  • How will you help people get home safely?
  • How will you restrict and supervise alcohol consumption?
  • What food and non-alcoholic drinks will you serve at your event?
  • How will you provide free drinking water?

3.    You need to watch your advertising

Groups will need to be careful how they advertise events. Under the new Act, an offence under the advertising rules may lead to a fine of up to $10,000.

Of significance, advertising or promoting free alcohol (other than in compliance with strict requirements) will be an offence.

This means fliers advertising “High tea with a complimentary glass of bubbly” may now breach the rules.

4.    Raffles – watch this space…

With the extended circumstances which now require a licence, it is possible that a raffle involving a prize bottle of wine will require a liquor licence.

This is because a raffle could count as an activity through which alcohol is supplied, and the sale of the ticket could count as an indirect sale of alcohol (similar to charging for an event).

However, the Liquor Licensing Authority has not yet tested this scenario. It remains a “watch this space”.

5.    Public engagement is now encouraged

The new rules encourage more public participation in the granting of liquor licences.

As part of the licensing process, the Public, Council, Police and the Medical Officer of Health will input into a decision to grant a licence (and any proposed conditions on the licence).

Many Councils have introduced new mechanisms to allow for public participation. For example, you can now sign up through the Wellington City Council to receive alerts when an application for a liquor licence is made in your neighbourhood.