Saturday 14 February 2015

National Liquor Norms – Far reaching, but unconstitutional?

Liquor laws - The new National Liquor Norms and Standards (“the Norms”) came into effect on 13 February 2015 by publication in a national government gazette.   This follows the adoption of the Norms by the National Liquor Policy Council on 9 September 2014 by all nine provincial MEC’s.  It is to be seen whether it will be introduced as is into the respective liquor acts of the 9 provinces or whether only certain sections will be introduced.   It is also possible that this legislation will be challenged due to liquor being a provincial competency (i.t.o an earlier Concourt judgement).

The intention of this legislation is to create a uniform legislative framework for the enforcement of liquor laws.   Currently, the various provincial liquor acts differ in many ways - some require documents such as tax and police clearances and others don't.

The main provisions of the Norms are the following : 

  • Tax, Police and Safety clearance certificates are required – not only for new applicants, but also as a condition for the annual renewal of existing licences. This will mean upwards of 50 000 additional certificates to be issued for reach year – for renewals only - by each of the respective SARS, SAP and local authority departments (ouch!)
  • No firearms will be allowed on on-consumption premises (not even if placed in a safe?).  No reference is made to off-consumption premises (liquor stores) though.
  • Condoms and drinking water to be provided free of cost on on – consumption premises
  • Licence holders will be held liable for pollution and littering outside their premises, if it “flowed from the business”.   Will a court hold a licence holder liable for the behaviour of a person over whom he / she has no control and who isn’t on his/her premises?
  • Off-consumption licence holders (liquor stores, etc) will be forced to keep sales records for 5 years – for each sale of more than 25 litres to the public.  Apart from the quantity, the reason for the purchase must also be recorded. 
  • Default trading hours (below)will be applicable to businesses in areas where municipalities have not determined such hours in terms of a by-law.
  • Distribution of liquor to liquor licence holders will also be limited, but have been extended somewhat compared to the previous draft - from 06h00 to 18h00 (previously from 09h00 to 18h00) Mon – Fri.    Distribution on Sundays – previously not allowed - is now allowed between 09h00 and 17h00.
  • Supermarkets and liquor stores will be allowed to trade on Sundays from 09h00 – 17h00 (not allowed included previously)  
  • Wineries will be allowed to manufacture 24/7 and offer tasting from 10h00 to 18h00 every day (excl Public Holidays).   No mention is made of the hours allowed for the sale of wine. 
  • Restaurants and night clubs – If zoned for business purposes, they’ll will be able to trade from 10h00 to 24h00 and 18h00 to 06h00 respectively.
It will be very interesting to see how the implementation of the Norms play out on a number of levels : 

  • Financial - Heavy cost burden to current and potential licence holders to comply, and
  • Administrative - Limpopo and Northwest provinces have to implement their respective provincial liquor acts by financial year end 2016/2017.

(Article by The Licence Co (LiquorWise Division) 

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