LawTalk Blog

Liquor licensing for a small venue

liquor licensing and small venues

Amendments in April 2013 to the Liquor Licensing Act 1997("the Act") introduced a new category of liquor licensing, namely a 'Small Venue Licence' ("SVL"). The impetus for this change has largely come about by the State Government's motivation to make Adelaide a more "vibrant" city. It aims to "provide flexibility and a stream-lined process for small venue licence applications."

Under the Act, a "small venue" is effectively defined by the following criteria:

  • the number of patrons which may be on the licensed premises at any given time is limited to 120 or such lesser number directed by the licensing authority
  • It must have a condition prohibiting entertainment of a 'prescribed kind' on the premises. Under Regulation 7A of the Liquor Licensing Regulations, this currently includes 'entertainment of a sexually explicit nature' or a 'professional or public boxing or martial art event within the meaning of theBoxing and Martial Arts Act 2000.' So, no strip or fight clubs allowed!
  • It permits the consumption of liquor between 11.00 am and midnight on any day except Good Friday and Christmas Day. Extended Trading Authorisation may be obtained to potentially extend trading hours from 8.00am to 2.00am
  • Consumption of liquor may be with or without a meal

At the present time, an SVL is only available to premises located within the Adelaide central business district but may be extended to other areas in the future.

Applicants for an SVL still need to meet most of the conditions that generally apply to other licensed premises, including the requirement to:

  • lodge an Application form and pay the requisite fees;
  • have a 'Responsible Person' who is trained in the responsible service of alcohol at the premises at all times the premises are open for trade;
  • obtain the landlord's consent to the liquor licence;
  • place a notice in the Advertiser and another local newspaper (unless otherwise directed by the licensing authority);
  • notify the local council and owners of adjacent premises (unless otherwise directed by the licensing authority); and
  • submit plans which delineate areas for the consumption of liquor on the premises

Notably, an application for a SVL is not subject to Notices of Objection otherwise available to other persons, which commonly include:

  • that the grant of the application would not be consistent with the objects of the Act or would be contrary to the Act in some other way;
  • the applicant is of bad reputation or character or is in other respects not a fit and proper person to be licensed;
  • in the case of an application by a trust or corporate entity for the grant or transfer of a licence (or for the conversion of a temporary licence into an ordinary licence) that the applicant is not a fit and proper person to be licensed or that a person who occupies a position of authority in the entity is of bad reputation or character or is in other respects not a fit and proper person to hold such a position in an entity that holds a licence;
  • in the case of an application for the grant or removal of a licence that the position, nature or quality of the premises renders them unsuitable to be licensed, or to be licensed under the category of licence applied for; or
  • that if the application were granted:
    • undue offence, annoyance, disturbance or inconvenience to people who reside, work or worship in the vicinity of the premises or proposed premises would be likely to result; or
    • the safety or welfare of children attending kindergarten, primary school or secondary school in the vicinity of the premises or proposed premises would be likely to be prejudiced; or
    • the amenity of the locality in which the premises or proposed premises are situated would be adversely affected in some other way

Any person(s) may however make submissions before the Liquor Licensing Commissioner in respect of an application for a SVL.

All that said, the Commissioner nevertheless has an absolute discretion to grant or refuse an application on any grounds or reasons it considers sufficient and must be satisfied that the applicant is a 'fit and proper person' and that granting the application will be in the public interest. The Commissioner cannot however take into account the economic impact on other licensees in the locality which may be affected by the application.

SA Police may intervene and make submissions on the question of:

  1. whether a person is a fit and proper person; or
  2. whether, if the application were to be granted, public disorder or disturbance would be likely to result; or
  3. whether to grant the application would be contrary to the public interest.

The local council may also make submissions to the licensing authority concerning an application for a SVL.

It is apparent that by removing the general right to other persons to lodge a Notice of Objection , the amendments to the Act seek to remove or restrict some of the legal and administrative impediments that otherwise commonly apply to liquor licence applications.  Whether or not this occurs or continues to occur in practice remains to be seen.

We would suggest that you speak to our Commercial Team if you are considering making an application for a SVL (or any other type of liquor licence) to ensure that all licensing requirements are met as well as assist you to deal with any submissions made against the proposed licence.


Please note, this Blog is posted in Adelaide, South Australia by Andersons Solicitors. It relates to South Australian legislation. Andersons Solicitors is a medium sized law firm servicing metropolitan Adelaide and regional South Australia across all areas of law for individuals and businesses.


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