MEDIA RELEASE: Western Cape Liquor Bill

Thursday, 24 April, 2008
Cluver Markotter Incorporated
On the 14th of March 2008 an amended Western Cape Liquor Bill was published for public comment. The period for comment ends on 7 May. Thereafter public hearings will be held by the Western Cape Legislature.
The previous version of the Bill, passed last year, was not put into effect last year due to technical problems.

It was decided to reintroduce the Bill after making some changes.

The Bill now also makes provision for a licence for on- and off-consumption sales on the same premises. This makes it possible to combine e.g. a wine shop and restaurant on the same premises.

A licence will now be required to manufacture liquor. The current Liquor Act only requires a licence for the sale of liquor.

Even garagiste winemakers will therefore now require liquor licences.

The Bill makes provision for a special event licence for the sale of liquor for consumption off the premises. Currently a temporary licence only allows for the sale of liquor for consumption on the premises. It will now be possible to obtain a special event licence for the sale of bottles or cases of wine.

Subject to conditions imposed when the licence is granted the hours for the sale of liquor for consumption off the premises will be between 08h00 and 20h00 every day and between 08h00 and 04h00 every day for on-consumption licences.

This will mean that supermarkets and liquor stores will be able to sell liquor on Sundays.

The reintroduced Bill will allow the sale of fortified wines such as port and sherry in supermarkets.

Wine estates will now be allowed to charge for wine tasting.

Holders of licences for on-consumption premises such as restaurants and clubs will be required to close off "the area from where liquor is sold" during times when liquor sales are not permitted.

Applications for liquor licences will now have to be advertised in a community newspaper in the relevant area. Notices on the application will have to be displayed on the premises and handed to nearby residents and the community police forum for their comments.

The Bill also requires the Liquor Board to obtain comments from the relevant municipalities and the ward counsellors.

It is expected that the application fees i.r.o. applications for new licences as well as annual renewal fees, will be increased significantly as the Liquor Board will be required to fund its own activities.

Prospective licence holders may also be required to undergo training before a licence is issued.

The Bill provides for higher fines and stiffer sentences for offences.

The driver of a motor vehicle will commit an offence if he/she allows passengers in the vehicle to consume alcohol.

The Act also makes it an offence to be drunk in a place to which the public has access. This means that a person who consumes enough liquor to be drunk (even though he/she is not disorderly or causes a nuisance) may be arrested after exiting a restaurant.

In view of the expected increase in fees, the expected "teething problems" with implementing a new act and the delays expected from the involvement of municipalities, Danie Cronjé, a Liquor Law Specialist from Cluver Markotter Inc. advises licence holders to get their house in order before the promulgation of the Act by applying for any changes in licence conditions or new licences.