Selling Alcohol in New South Wales

The sale of liquor in Australia, whether retail or wholesale, is regulated by laws that vary from state to state. But what remains common throughout the country is the need to not only have a licence but also to sell alcohol in a responsible way and in an acceptable location.

At Szabo & Associates we have the skills and expertise to guide you through the liquor laws of New South Wales, whether embarking on a new commercial venture, seeking to change or challenge a current liquor licence, unsure about licence conditions or wishing to sell alcohol for a one-off function.

Laws Regulating the Sale of Liquor in NSW

The Liquor Act 2007, Gaming and Liquor Administration Act 2007 and Liquor Regulation 2008, introduced on 1 July 2008, reformed alcohol laws to replace an outmoded system for regulating the sale of liquor. These laws seek to balance the needs of the liquor industry, such as licensees, to have a flexible and practical system of regulation and to minimise any harm that can be caused by the sale and consumption of alcohol in the community.

The Liquor Act 2007 contains the main provisions regulating and controlling the sale and supply of alcohol. It also provides the policy objectives behind the regulatory framework, requiring licensees and any other person involved in the sale or supply of alcohol to have due regard to the need to ensure that the sale, supply and consumption of liquor contributes to, and does not detract from, the amenity of community life.

The Gaming and Liquor Administration Act 2007 established the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, which is responsible for regulating liquor licences on behalf of the government. The Authority determines liquor licence applications in NSW.

Liquor Licences in NSW

There are seven liquor licence types in NSW.

  • On-premises licences are very flexible and apply to any premises where the sale of alcohol is with, or secondary to, another product or service. They are most typically granted for restaurants, catering services, tourism businesses, accommodation and live music and public entertainment venues and usually subject to the standard trading period (5am to midnight Monday to Friday, 10am to 10pm on Sunday), although it is possible to apply for extended trading hours;
  • Small bar licences allows liquor to be sold in a premises that hold no more than 60 patrons, don’t operate gaming machines or offer takeaway alcohol sales. The application process can be less demanding than for other types of licence, although trading hours may vary, depending on the precinct the bar is in;
  • Hotel licences apply to any premise where the primary purpose is to sell or supply alcohol. They are most commonly sought for accommodation hotels as well as small and large bars that wish to sell alcohol for consumption on and off the premises. A general bar hotel licence is also available for bars that do not sell takeaway alcohol. Before applying for a hotel licence, a community impact statement must be prepared and lodged with the application;
  • Club licences apply to registered clubs. Newly registered clubs (those that were formed after 30 June 2008) require a community impact statement and are subject to the standard trading period, although it is possible to apply for the period to be extended;
  • Limited licences allow alcohol sales for consumption at a function, such as a special event or a trade fair, organised by both non-profit and for-profit organisations. The conditions of the licence will vary according to whether it is for a single function or multiple functions;
  • Packaged liquor licences are required to sell takeaway alcohol through a bottle shop or via home delivery, mail order or the internet. Before applying for a packaged liquor licence, a community impact statement must be prepared and lodged with the application;
  • Producer/wholesaler licences allows wine producers, brewers, distillers and wholesalers to sell to other liquor licensees. The licence also allows for tastings and retail sales at the licensed premises.

If you think you need a licence, contact us to find out what type of licence is required and how to start the application process.

Liquor Licence Conditions

Conditions are imposed on every type of licence and must be complied with. Some of these are general and directly imposed by the Liquor Act 2008, while others are specific to an application and imposed by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority. Special conditions may also be imposed on licenced premises in a certain precinct. These specific and special conditions can be put in place when a licence is granted or imposed on an existing licence.

Whether you’re applying for a licence for the first time, seeking to vary the conditions of your existing licence or looking for help opposing or objecting to the approval of a new licence, our expert solicitors can advise you about the general, specific and special conditions imposed on liquor licences in NSW.

Potential and Recent Changes to NSW Liquor Law

The NSW Government is currently considering an update of the state’s liquor laws following a review carried out last year. Potential changes include new fees and procedures for applying for, or varying, a licence, the ability for local councils to apply for a change to a venue's licence conditions, such as trading hours, and the requirement to include venue capacity limits. New laws relating to the environment and planning may also be introduced over the coming years that influence liquor licensing decisions.

New laws came into force earlier this year placing further restrictions on the sale and supply of alcohol in NSW, such as a state-wide band on takeaway liquor sales after 10pm. There are also special restrictions for licensed premises in the Sydney CBD Entertainment and Kings Cross precincts. Under these new precinct rules, venues cannot admit patrons after 1.30am and must stop selling or supplying alcohol at 3am.

At Szabo & Associates, we stay ahead of any potential changes to the law in NSW so that our clients don't have to. Contact our specialist solicitors for advice about liquor licencing on 02 9281 5088 or by filling out one of our contact forms here.


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