Less flexibility with the Special Facility Licence

Section 46 of the Liquor Control Act (Act) provides that a Special Facility Licence (SFL) may now only be granted for a 'prescribed purpose' of works canteens, theatres or cinemas, reception or function centres, transport, tourism, post secondary educational institutions, sports arenas, foodhalls, catering, bed and breakfast facilities, room service restaurants, amusement venues, and interstate wine clubs.

In previous years however under the Liquor Licensing Act, many SFL's were permitted to be granted for 'other' purposes which did not fit the prescribed purposes of the time.  This allowed greater flexibility in the system and SFL's being authorised to operate under trading conditions and trading hours to suit a speciality/niche business and trade.  This has resulted in a number of 'hybrid' special facility licences being still in operation which technically may not fit any of the current prescribed purposes.

Under section 46B(2) of the Act, this variety of 'hybrid' SFL is now coming under threat.  Section 46B(2) of the Act provides that the licensing authority may of its own motion or on the application of the licensee cancel an SFL, grant to the person who was the licensee of the former special facility premises a licence of another class in its place and, if appropriate, grant an extended trading permit (ETP) as a substitute for the extending trading conditions or hours permitted under the former SFL.  A recent example of the use of section 46(B)(2) has resulted in a prominent country hotel having its special facility licence altered to a hotel licence with an ETP.

In some circumstances, the conversion of a 'hybrid' SFL may be desirable from a licensee perspective.  For instance, the need for extended hours or trading conditions at such premises may have diminished as trading patterns have changed over the years.  The licensing authority and police officers are also it seems, particularly vigilant in respect to such SFL's complying with their 'hybrid' trading conditions.  As a consequence, some of these SFL licensees have received a large number of infringements in recent times.

It will of course depend on the particular operations of each 'hybrid' SFL whether the licensee makes use of the facility for change under section 46(B)(2).  If in doubt as to the ongoing viability of or consequences of converting a 'hybrid' SFL, licensees may wish to seek legal advice about the process and its consequences.

For further information please contact at Lavan Legal:
Ian Curlewis on 9288 6756 /mailto:ian.curlewis@lavanlegal.com.au or Madge Mukund on 9288 6810 / madge.mukund@lavanlegal.com.au.

Disclaimer – the information contained in this publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should seek legal advice in relation to any particular matter you may have before relying or acting on this information. The Lavan team are here to assist.