National government publishes draft law to regulate provincial liquor sales.

Friday, 13 December, 2013
Danie Cronje
The national Department of Trade and Industry published draft National Liquor Norms and Standards for public comment on the 4th of December.

Interest parties have 30 days to comment on the proposed norms and standards.

According to Danie Cronje, the Director of Liquor Law at Cluver Markotter Incorporated the national Liquor Act does provide for the national government to set essential national norms and standards of the retail sale and micro-manufacture of liquor.

However, the Constitutional Court has confirmed that the regulation of the retail sale and micro-manufacture of liquor is a provincial power. It is for this reason that the provinces had drafted and implemented their own liquor acts

In terms of the constitution “the control of undertakings which sell liquor” is a municipal power.

According to Cronje it is accepted that this means that municipalities may determine liquor trading days and hours.

In terms of the draft published the norms, if accepted, will apply to all existing and future premises where liquor is manufactured and sold.

The provisions which will cause problems for licence holders are the following:

Licences may not be transferred. This means that a new owner taking over an existing business would have to apply for his own liquor licence and not may take over the existing licence. He will not be allowed to trade while waiting for his licence.

Liquor licences may not be relocated. This means that a licence holder who obtains a better location for his / her shop or restaurant in a shopping mall would have to apply for a new licence. This could take much longer that to relocate it.

On-consumption licenced premises such as restaurants will only be allowed to sell liquor from 10h00 to 24h00 Monday to Sunday.

Night clubs will however be allowed to sell liquor from 18h00 to 06h00 Monday to Sunday.

For restaurants the following conditions will also be imposed:

Free drinking water must be made easily available to patrons at all times.

Separate toilet facilities for each gender must be provided and free issue condoms must be easily available in an easily accessable area at all times.

Restaurants will also be obliged to have a safe where guns and other dangerous weapons brought by patrons can be kept.

At special events liquor may only be sold from 10h00 - 24h00.

Supermarkets and liquor stores may only trade from 09h00 to 20h00 Monday to Saturday. No provision is made for sale of liquor on Sunday or public holidays.

For wineries the provisions are confusing.

It appears that “manufacturing” may take place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

“Tasting” will be allowed Monday to Sunday 10h00 to 18h00 with no tasting on public holidays.

It is not stated what times will apply to the sale of wine.

Distribution of liquor to liquor licence holders will also be limited. Transactions will have to be concluded between 09h00 and 18h00. Deliveries may take place outside these hours but not on Sunday or public holidays.

According to Cronje one hopes that the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Province, which had both spent considerable time and effort in obtaining public comments on its bylaw and Liquor Act respectively, will object to the proposed norms and standards to the extent that these interfere with their constitutional rights to regulate the retail sale and control of undertakings which sell liquor.