Liquor Licensing and harm minimisation
In Director of Liquor Licensing v Kordister Pty Ltd & Anor  VSC 207, the Supreme Court has considered the principals for liquor licence cancellation. The case was an appeal by the Director against a decision of VCAT refusing to amend the trading hours of a “take away liquor licence” held by premises located in the CBD.
In considering the objects of the relevant statute the Court observed that;
“Contributing to minimising harm arising from the misuse and abuse of alcohol is a broad regulatory object which was included in the Liquor Control Reform Act as it was enacted in 1998 and has been strengthened by subsequent amendments since. When making liquor licensing decisions, harm minimisation is the primary consideration, although not the only consideration. The application of that object requires a range of social, economic and cultural factors to be taken into account, which must then be weighed in the balance with the positive benefits which are brought to the community by the liquor industry, as reflected in the other objects.“
The Court then assessed the manner in which VCAT had dealt with the “harm minimisation” evidence;
“In this case, what the tribunal was required to do, and did not do, was to make an evaluative judgment about the contribution which ending late-night trading at the bottle shop would make to minimising harm arising from the misuse and abuse of alcohol. That required the tribunal to consider the degree and nature of the harm which was occurring or likely, from whatever cause, and how, if at all, ending that trading would contribute to minimising that harm, even if the bottle shop was not responsible for it.“
The matter has been remitted to VCAT for further hearing in accordance with the Court’s ruling.