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About our Work

Excellence in Decision Making

Our objective is to empower, equip and enable all District Licensing Committees to make decisions that meet the object and purpose of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act (2012).

The principles of decision making for District Licensing Committees (DLCs)
  • The decision must be within a power properly conferred under an Act of Parliament on the decision-maker.

  • A decision-maker must consider all matters that are relevant to the making of the decision and not take into account matters that are not relevant to the making of the decision.

  • A decision-maker must not make a decision or exercise a power or discretion in bad faith or for an improper purpose.

  • A decision-maker must ensure that findings of fact are based on evidence adduced during a hearing or in the application for unopposed matters. Decisions must be reasonable.

  • Those who may be affected by a decision must be accorded procedural fairness. This includes the principles of natural justice.

  • In summary, when making decisions, a DLC must first ensure that its decisions are legal and secondly that they are reasonable. If these two principles are applied then the DLC will have a good basis for its decision.

The Act and Case Law

Case law is the written interpretation of law that has been established through decisions made by judges in previous cases. It is built up from judgments given by higher (appellate) courts when they interpret statutes in cases brought before them. Called ‘precedents’, they are binding on all courts (within the same or lower jurisdictions) and must be followed as good law in similar cases. Over time, these precedents are recognised, affirmed, and enforced by the subsequent court decisions, thus continually expanding the common law.

Case law may be introduced in reports by agencies or in the hearing by any of the parties. In making your decisions you will also have to consider relevant case law. You need to know what case law is, how it is relevant to your decision-making process, and how to apply it.

Case law on alcohol licensing decisions in New Zealand is established by the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA) and the courts. A decision of a DLC can be appealed to ARLA. Decisions of ARLA can be appealed to the High Court, then the Court of Appeal, and up to the Supreme Court.

New Zealand Legal Information Institute has databases for Liquor Licensing Authority decisions up until 21 December 2012 and for Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority decisions from 2013.

About DLC's

DLCs are set up under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, and every territorial authority (local council) has one. They are independent decision-making bodies and have prime responsibility for the consideration of, and determination of applications for licences.

Licences include:
  • new on-licences, off-licences, club and special licences

  • renewals of on-licences, off-licences and club licences

  • new and renewal of managers’ certificates

  • variations of licence conditions

  • enforcement applications relating to special licences

  • temporary authorities and opposed temporary manager notifications.

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