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Who can object to a licence?

Parliament has made changes to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 (the Act) so that you no longer need to have a greater interest than the public generally to object to applications.

Anyone can object to an application for a licence, licence renewal, variation of licence conditions or special licence, with narrow exceptions for trade competitors and their surrogates.

There is no cost for lodging an objection.

What are the grounds for objection?

You can object to a liquor licence based on (but only on) any of the following criteria:

  • The object of the Act.
  • The suitability of the applicant.
  • Any relevant local alcohol policy.
  • The days and hours of sale.
  • The design and layout of premises.
  • The sale of goods other than alcohol and refreshments.
  • The provision of other services not related to the sale of alcohol and refreshments.
  • Whether amenity and good order of the area would be substantially reduced.
  • The undesirability of further licences where amenity and good order have already been reduced.
  • Whether the applicant has systems, staff and training to comply with the law
  • Any matters reported by the Police, an inspector or the Medical Officer of Health.

The decision makers cannot take into account the impacts of the licence on a business conducted under any other licence or other matters not covered by the criteria.

How do I talk about my concerns?

In your objection you will need to link your concerns to the criteria. For example, you may be concerned that another licensed premises in your street would add to existing noise, vandalism and disturbance. You might want to talk about the current situation (eg, noise levels at night, rubbish etc) and then your concerns about how this would be affected by a new licensed premises, or the renewal of the licence. If you have a concern about the suitability of the applicant you should have evidence that demonstrates the unsuitability of the applicant.

Who decides whether a licence will be granted?

The bodies that make decisions about licences are:

  • District Licensing Committees (DLCs), which are administered by your local territorial authority, consider all licence applications. Find more information about DLCs.
  • Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA) is the national decision making body for licensing and deals with matters referred to it by a DLC, as well as appeals against decisions of DLCs. Find more information about ARLA.

How do I make an objection?

Your objection must be filed with the DLC within 25 working days after the first public notice about the application appears in your local newspaper or on your council’s website. The full postal address of the DLC will be included in the notification.

Your objection must be made in writing and include your full name, address and contact telephone number. You may object only in relation to matters that are able to be considered when granting a licence - the licence criteria. You should clearly set out the reasons for your objection and also state whether or not you wish to appear at any hearing. Your objection is likely to have greater effect if you attend the hearing personally and speak in support of your submission.

You can make an individual objection or participate in a written group submission, nominating one or two representatives to appear and present the objection at the hearing.

Once your objection is received, it becomes a public document and will be made available to the person applying for the licence and other people or organisations outside the DLC.

Go to your council's website for specific instructions about how to make an objection.

How is the licensing decision made?

The DLC will acknowledge receipt of your objection or you may be contacted by a licensing inspector to discuss it. A copy of your objection is sent to the applicant.

Copies of the application and any objections are also sent to the Police, Medical Officer of Health (located in the local District Health Board) and licensing inspector (who works for the territorial authority but acts independently to enforce the Act, monitor licences and advise the DLC and ARLA on applications). Licensing inspectors must provide a report to the DLC on each licence application. The Medical Officer of Health and the Police must inquire into each application and report to the DLC on them when they have matters in opposition.

The DLC will consider all licence applications whether contested or not. If there are no objections the application may be granted without a public hearing. If there are objections a public hearing with all parties must be held. If the objection is deemed vexatious or if the applicant does not require it, a hearing may not be held.

In considering any application for a licence, the DLC and ARLA, must consider the criteria.

Find more information about ARLA, the hearings process, and decisions.

How do I appeal a decision?

If you made an objection and you disagree with the decision you can appeal to ARLA. You need to give a notice of appeal to ARLA within 10 working days of the DLC decision being notified.

There is a cost for filing an appeal.