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Firm calls for new education on licensing laws

Firm calls for new education on licensing laws

A Victorian law firm has warned that changes to the state's liquor licensing system could catch some hospitality and gaming operators off-guard, causing an upswing in non-compliance fines within a risk based system.

A Victorian law firm has warned that changes to the state’s liquor licensing system could catch some hospitality and gaming operators off-guard, causing an upswing in non-compliance fines within a risk based system.

Melbourne-based law firm Logie-Smith Lanyon Lawyers has warned that the new licensing fees, which came into effect this year, had not been fully comprehended by some licensees.

The firm is seeing a lag period in the awareness and understanding of the reforms, as well as lack of appreciation of some of the hidden effects of non-compliance.

Head of the firm’s hospitality and gaming practice, Mag Kearney, said the new fees are not fully understood by the industry.

“Liquor license fees can increase significantly for those found to be supplying alcohol to an intoxicated person, permitting a drunk or disorderly person on the premises, supplying alcohol to a minor or permitting a minor on licensed premises.”

Kearney said the appointment of Mark Brennan last month for a two-year stint as the new director of Liquor Licensing Victoria, would see education play a more significant role in helping the industry adjust to the new fee structure.

Brennan spoke at a hospitality and gaming industry briefing last week, organised by Logie-Smith Lanyon.

He said that he planned to use a range of educative measures to underwrite specific reforms within the licensed hospitality industry. This would include using education and mediation as the most effective way to achieve compliance, and industry body involvement in the delivery of compliance training and education.

“One of the most pleasing aspects of [Brennan’s] presentation was his attitude to change. As well as having a very pronounced small business emphasis and hands-on approach, he said that he was not interested in achieving consistency, as ‘one size does not fit all,” said Kearney.

“His take on the new risk licence fee structure is ‘licence fees are a cost of business - if you can’t afford ‘em, change business’. [Brennan] may be absolutely correct, and in fact licence fees are not within his sphere of influence.

“However, managing fee increases still pose an enormous challenge to business people, large and small, which have committed to leases and mortgages based on the expectation of incremental increases,” she said.


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