The Western Cape Liquor Amendment Act 3 0f 2015 which came into operation in full on the 1st of July 2017, deals largely with administrative matters. There are, however, some provisions which will affect the micro-manufacturing and retail industry.
In the past, when a conditional authority for a liquor licence was granted the applicant could be certain that, if he complied with the stipulated conditions, a licence would be issued. The main condition was usually proof that the premises has been built in accordance with the approved plan. The Liquor Licencing Tribunal may now revoke the conditional granting of a licence if it becomes aware of material facts of which it was unaware at the time of the conditional grant and it is satisfied that, had it been aware of those facts, it would not have granted the licence. This can be problematic for an entrepreneur who wishes, for example, to build a liquor store or hotel on the strength of a conditional authority which has as its only condition the construction of the building in accordance with the approved plan. He may spend a great deal of money on the building only to find the conditional authority revoked. It will in future be vitally important to see that the full facts are disclosed in an application for a licence in respect of premises which have not yet been constructed.
In terms of the Act events licences could only be granted to a specified list of persons namely an educational institution, a welfare or cultural organization, the organizer of an exhibition, the secretary, manager, or chief steward of a bona fide race meeting or similar event, the organizer of an artistic performance. This now falls away and anyone may apply for and obtain an events licence. An events licence may also now be granted for both on- and off-consumption. This will greatly assist the markets which have become so popular.
Whereas in the past a licensee was not allowed to let his licence to another person, allow another person to carry on business in terms of the licence or allow another person to use the licence he may now do so with the consent of the Presiding Officer. However, such consent may only be granted in “exceptional circumstance”. It is not clear what exceptional circumstances in this context are as they are not defined in the Act. We have no doubt that the term will be defined by the courts in due course. This change will greatly assist hoteliers who wish to sub-let a part of their hotel, such as the restaurant or bar, to another operator and retain control of the licence to cover other venues and room service.
The amended Act provides for the biennial renewal of licences. What it means is that the licensee will pre-pay the renewal fees for the next two years. We are not sure what advantage this holds for the licensee.
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