The role of a liquor law consultant

How can a liquor law consultant smooth your licensing process?

If you are applying for your first liquor licence, or renewing an existing licence, you may decide to enlist help. Or you may prefer to go it alone. Do you need professional assistance? What are some of the benefits of using a liquor law consultant? As the legislation stands, there is no requirement to engage an attorney to submit an application to the Western Cape Liquor Authority and/or the National Liquor Authority. Anyone who wishes to obtain a liquor licence can submit the application on their own behalf. The costs of the various licences are published on the WCLA’s website and there is now an eLicence portal which allows licence holders to manage their licences online. Currently it is only possible to renew an existing licence online and not apply for an initial licence.

Why use a liquor law consultant?

If you can manage your own licence, why would you choose to use a consultant? There are obviously cost savings to be found in the DIY approach. But there are also false economies – “actions that save money at the beginning but, over a longer period of time, result in more money being wasted than being saved”. Generally a consultant who assists with your liquor licence is an attorney who specialises in liquor legislation. As with most areas of the law, liquor legislation has become a very specialised field. An attorney will know, for instance, how applications are being considered and viewed by the authorities at different times. An attorney will also know what information and documentation the authorities require, where the information is not stated in the Act or in the information provided by the different authorities.

Critically, an attorney has relationships with people at the various licensing boards, built up through time and experience, and enjoys direct access to the key role players. This might be particularly helpful if there are any irregularities with your licence application or if you have specific questions.

Freedom from the administrative burden

Applying for a liquor licence can be tedious and carries with it a considerable administrative burden. If you appoint an attorney to handle your licence application for you, that burden falls on the attorney. It is your responsibility to provide the requisite information and documentation to your attorney. It is not their job to produce documents. But it is their job to ensure the documentation complies with the legislative requirements and turn your information and documentation into a valid application. And because they are an expert in the field, they are almost certain to complete the process much more rapidly than you could. If you consider all the other tasks on your plate as the owner or manager of licensed premises, and the time you can save by outsourcing your liquor licence application, the cost of engaging a liquor licence attorney becomes extremely good value.

Other stakeholders

A liquor licence application is submitted not only to the liquor licensing authorities. There are various third parties that may have a stake in an application. Your attorney can deal with these on your behalf. Stakeholders may include the local SAPS office, the applicable municipal office and, in some instances, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. It may also be necessary for the attorney to liaise with the Western Cape Educational Department and/or town planners.

Handling objections and compliance issues

From time to time, objections are lodged against an application. This is not uncommon in suburban neighbourhoods, particularly where licensed premises already operate. Community groups often want to limit the number of outlets, motivated by concerns over noise, crime, antisocial behaviour, or proximity to schools or churches. An experienced attorney knows how to deal with these objections and provide representations on behalf of the applicant.

An attorney who specialises in liquor legislation deals with more than just licence applications. Sometimes compliance notices are issued which could lead to fines or the suspension of the liquor licence. In serious instances, the liquor licence could be revoked. If you as the licence holder are not familiar with liquor legislation, administrative law, or the law of evidence, you could put your liquor licence at serious risk if you don’t appoint an attorney to handle the case.

An attorney does more than submit licence applications. They also assist with the portfolio of existing licenced premises to ensure you are in compliance with ever-changing liquor legislation.

Changes to liquor legislation are being proposed for discussion and public participation. Whether you are a first-time applicant or an existing liquor licence holder, it is in your best interests to work with an expert who is aware of all the risks and responsibilities that come with being the a liquor licence holder.

Help with your liquor licence

As a liquor law consultant we will ensure your liquor licence application or renewal is submitted on time and with the correct documentation. We will also handle objections and manage any compliance issues. Get legal help with your liquor licence application here.

Disclaimer

The information on this website is provided to assist the reader with a general understanding of the law. While we believe the information to be factually accurate, and have taken care in our preparation of these pages, these articles cannot and do not take individual circumstances into account and are not a substitute for personal legal advice. If you have a legal matter that concerns you, please consult a qualified attorney. Simon Dippenaar & Associates takes no responsibility for any action you may take as a result of reading the information contained herein (or the consequences thereof), in the absence of professional legal advice.