Western Cape Liquor Act finalised

Monday, 20 December, 2010
Danie Cronjé, Cluver Markotter
The Western Cape Parliament approved the Western Cape Liquor Amendment Act during its sitting on Tuesday.
The Amendments Act amends the Western Cape Liquor Act which had been approved earlier but, with the exception of a few provisions dealing with contraventions and penalties, had not been put into operation.

Some of the amendments affect role players in the wine industry.

Applications for temporary liquor licences including for the sale of bottled wine during wine festivals will be dealt with by the Chairman of the Board and not the Liquor Board itself.

This should speed up and simplify such applications.

The definition of the wine to sold in retail stores has been amended to exclude fortified wines such as port and sherry. Only natural wine with a maximum alcohol content of 16.5% may be sold.

The provision which allows wine estates and supermarkets to apply for an extension of the default trading hours from 18h00 to 20h00 in areas where municipalities have not determine trading days and trading hours has been reinserted.

According to Danie Cronjé, the Director of Liquor Law at Cluver Markotter Incorporated this may convince some municipalities allow longer trading hours than the 9h00 to 18h00 which City of Cape Town Municipality has determined for off-consumption liquor sales in its area.

Although the Act still contains a provision which limits of the quantity of liquor which may be sold to a member of the public in one day and which may be possessed by a member of the public at any time (currently 30 litres in terms of the draft Regulations published for public comment) provision has been made for the Minister to determine that a person / group of persons are exempt from this requirement.

Small scale wine makers who make wine only for own consumption will be automatically exempted from having to apply for a liquor licence and would not longer have to apply for such an exemption.

Wine producers which make wine in the cellars of other producers would no longer have to apply for permission to do so. The cellar providing the cellar space would only have to notify the Liquor Board of the arrangement.

A provision in the Act which to date has made it very difficult to obtain licences for a wine tasting area located next to or linked to a restaurant or a function venue has been removed.

According to Cronje it may still take some time before the Act is fully operational. The Minister has confirmed that only certain sections of the Act will be put into operation in order to provide for the appointment of staff members and the setup of structures required to implement the Act.

Cronjé warns however that time is running out for role players in the industry to get their house in order before the more complicated and expensive procedures of the new Act will be applicable to applications for new liquor licences or changes to existing licences.