What is a small bar liquor licence and why do I need one in WA?
A small bar liquor licence authorizes the owner of the small bar business (called the “licensee”) to sell and supply liquor to customers of the small bar for consumption on the premises.
Small bar licences were introduced by the WA Government to encourage smaller, intimate and bespoke bar environments. Consistent with this, the maximum number of people permitted on a small bar premises at any one time is restricted to 120 (excluding responsible persons and authorized officers).
Small bar licences are granted by the licensing authority of WA (being the Racing, Gaming and Liquor Division of the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural industries) pursuant to the Liquor Control Act 1988 (WA). Under the WA Act any person who wants to sell and supply liquor in the state must have a liquor licence unless a specific exemption applies. If a licence is required under the Act, selling liquor without a licence is an offence and carries a penalty of up to $20,000.
How do I apply for a small bar liquor licence?
To apply for a new small bar liquor licence a formal application must be lodged at the licensing authority of WA.
In general, an application form, an application fee and supporting material, including plans of the proposed premises must be lodged. The licensing authority sets out the requirements for each type of liquor licence.
What are the essential requirements?
There are two essential requirements for small bar liquor licence, being a licensee and a premises.
1. The licensee:
The licensee is the person authorised to sell and supply liquor, in accordance with the terms of the licence. A licensee may be an individual person, a company, an association, or two or more of these persons acting jointly. A company structure that has an underlying trust (or trusts) is also acceptable.
There are certain restrictions on who may be a licensee. For instance, an individual person who is bankrupt, a juvenile or a company that is in receivership may not be granted a licence.
2. The premises:
The premises is the specified place where the licensee is permitted to sell and supply liquor. For a small bar licence this is the bar premises. The licensee must have a lease or other right of exclusive possession of the premises. It is also important that the premises:
- may be used as a small bar under the local planning laws; and
- has sufficient toilet facilities on the premises.
What other things are required?
Other important requirements for a small bar licence application are:
- Where the licensee is a company all persons who hold a “position of authority” in the company (this includes a director or shareholder in any shareholding company or a beneficiary of a trust with an interest in the business of the licence) have to be approved by the licensing authority. This is done as part of the application.
- The licensee (or at least one director of the company if the licensee is a company) must have successfully completed the Course in Management of Licensed Premises. Plans must be prepared that comply with the licensing authority’s requirements.
- A House Management Policy, a Code of Conduct and Management Plan for the bar premises must be prepared that comply with the licensing authority’s requirements. These documents set out details on how the licensee will operate the premises and ensure the responsible service of alcohol.
- An application fee is payable to the licensing authority for the application. Additional fees may apply for the persons in a position of authority to be approved.
- Where the premises are to be constructed or fitted out, a conditional grant can be sought. That is, the licence is approved subject to completion of the premises. This enables the applicant to have a decision on the licence application before it spends money on obtaining a building certificate.
What is the application process?
Once an application has been lodged at the licensing authority, the licensing authority will complete a preliminary assessment of the application. It will then advise if further information or documents are required or not. It may also require the application to be advertised. This is generally for a period of 14 days. During the advertising period interested parties may oppose the application by lodging a notice of intervention or notice of objection.
Once all the licensing authority’s requirements have been are satisfied the application will be determined (i.e. a decision made). The timeframe for this will depend on the requirements to be satisfied.
For straightforward applications that are not opposed a decision can generally be expected within 2 to 4 months from the date of lodgement.