Henry On 8th Maylands
Henry on Eighth

Liquor Licensing & Canford - a brief history lesson

If you wanted a liquor licence in the early 2000s – the process was fairly daunting. You had to meet with a lawyer (usually on St George’s Terrace), and try to breakdown your project vision to them in the small allotted time you were offered. 

Canford disrupted the traditional liquor licence application method. Being one of the first consultancies from the turn of the century within our state, Canford began the practice of visiting clients’ venues – obligation free, to assess the requirements and guide people looking to apply for a licence. There were (and still are) a multitude of ways to sell liquor. Because of this, it made sense that to help the client, the venue needed to be assessed. Further, the style of operation needed to be understood by people with hospitality knowledge and experience. Canford has a passion for seeing the hospitality industry grow and succeed.

The Needs Test

Up until 2007, all liquor store licence applications required applicants to satisfy the ‘Needs test’. The needs test meant the applicant had to provide information and evidence that showed identifiable and demonstrable points of difference between the proposed liquor store and the others that surrounded it. Consequently however, this left scope for substantial objections from competing licensed premises arguing they had all the needs already covered. 

In 2007, the old needs test was removed from the Liquor Control Act. As a result, Canford took this change onboard and pioneered ‘Public Interest Assessments’. This new strategy assisted high profile applications like the Wine Box in Nedlands (at the Big Bomber Site), and O’Connor Cellars in Kalgoorlie with successful applications, for example.

The Reasonable Requirements test

Fast forward to late last year. The ‘Reasonable Requirements test’ was added to the Liquor Control Act. When you look closer at how the test is defined, it becomes difficult to find any real differences between it and the Needs test from pre-2007. 

Pulling directly from The Liquor Control Act, Section 36B – Restrictions on grant of removal of certain licences authorising sale of packaged liquor(4);

“The licensing authority must not grant an application to which this section applies unless satisfied that local packaged liquor requirements cannot reasonably be met by existing packaged liquor premises in the locality in which the proposed licensed premises are, or are to be, situated.”

To put it simply – within your application you must be able to justify (through whatever methods you choose), that the requirements of the community in which you want to start selling take-away liquor, cannot be reasonably met by already existing venues, with special regard for the liquor itself. Canford assists clients in taking this section very seriously. We’ve seen great ideas for venues and concepts for new liquor stores fall victim to failing this new test.

There are a lot of moving parts to a liquor licence application. Disruptions to the liquor laws like the introduction of the reasonable requirements test, set up new challenges that applicants must consider. 

The hospitality industry is always changing, and that’s the way that it should be. Having the same product on every street corner with no differentiation isn’t what pushes us forward. Being a part of the disruption to the industry, is how you get your business to stand out from others.

If you find yourself struggling to address the reasonable requirements test, please feel free to get in touch.

Contact us

08 6278 2788