North West Province draft liquor policy

Friday, 7 February, 2014
Danie Cronje
North West Province published a draft liquor policy for public comment.
The North West provincial liquor act will be based on this policy.

Interested parties may submit comments before the 20th of February.

According to Danie Cronje, the Director of Liquor Law Services at Cluver Markotter Incorporated, a number of provisions in the draft policy are of concern for businesses with liquor licences.

According to the policy licences are not transferable.

This means that when an existing business is taken over the new owner must apply for a new liquor licence and cannot take over the existing licence.

Currently provincial Liquor Boards allow new owners to carry on with liquor sales under the existing licence while it is being transferred.

If transfers are not possible the new owners would have to wait until their own licence is approved.

The policy also states that licences can only be used for the premises for which it is issued.

This means that the owner of a business which relocates the business from one place to another has to apply for a new licence.

This often takes longer than to apply for the relocation of the licence to the new premises.

The policy states that in rural areas licensed premises must be located at least 1km from schools, places of worship, recreation facilities and public institutions.
This will cause problems in small towns as business premises are often located within 1km of such places.
In urban licensed premises must be at least 500m away from schools, places of worship, recreation facilities and public institutions.

The trading hours for businesses such as supermarkets and liquor stores will be from 09h00 to 20h00 Monday to Saturday with no sales on Sundays and public holidays.

The policy does not allow for supermarkets and liquor stores to apply for the right to sell on Sunday. This option has been included in other provincial liquor acts and municipal bylaws.

According to Cronje the provision which causes the most concern states that the MEC may put a cap on the number of licences that can be issued in a specific area.

Cronje is of the opinion that this is unconstitutional as it infringes on the right to free economic activity.

It also gives an unfair advantage to existing licence holders or an applicant who lodge his/her application for a liquor licence in a particular area earlier than his/her competitor.

The policy also states that where a licensee suspects that a patron might be pregnant the patron should be informed of the danger of consuming alcohol whilst pregnant.

Cronje believes believe this provision will be difficult to enforce and may cause embarrassment not only to the patron but also to the staff in the business.