Sunday, September 15, 2013

Article in The Shout magazine - Pubs baulk at OLGR & Police pressure tactics

Article in The Shout magazine - Pubs baulk at OLGR & Police pressure tactics

Pubs baulk at OLGR pressure tactics

By Clyde Mooney - editor Australian Hotelier
Amid reports that the State regulator is distributing 'suggestions' on adopting strict liquor accord standards, the industry has reacted with a resounding 'slow down!'
The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) NSW has received reports over recent weeks that Office of Liquor & Gaming (OLGR) officials and NSW Police licensing officers have been distributing documents based on their ‘suggestions for compliance’ to liquor accords. 
Reportedly some accords are being told they must accept these measures or ones similar to them, or face the prospect of conditions similar to those imposed on Newcastle or Kings Cross.
The AHA NSW has contacted senior OLGR staff, in response to numerous queries from both metropolitan and regional members relating to the distribution of the documents and the manner in which the information is delivered.  
The OLGR representatives informed the Association that the intent of the program is: ‘to ensure all areas have considered the terms of their accords’; that the documents are ‘a guide only’ to stimulate discussion, based on existing measures from around NSW; and ‘not by any means a list of recommended strategies that accords must adopt’.
AHA NSW has always supported member involvement in the establishment and participation in local liquor accords, but warns members to think carefully before they proceed.
“Liquor Accords are about developing local solutions to their issues,” said AHA NSW CEO Paul Nicolaou.
“On that basis, members are strongly advised to consider carefully the issues that are affecting [their] local area, and to make informed and voluntary decisions in relation to any strategies that are adopted.”
Liquor licensing specialist law firm Sylvester & Browne bode the wisdom of proceeding cautiously, having seen first hard the results of operators railroaded into stringent voluntary conditions. 
"Some of our clients have certainly been pressured into agreeing with the inclusion of certain conditions on a supposedly 'voluntary' basis,” David Sylvester, Principal Lawyer at Sylvester & Browne told TheShout.
“Others have been on the receiving end of Police using unrelated and biased intelligence in order to impose more stringent conditions. Many licensees adopt these terms and conditions through a fear of upsetting the Police or receiving increased attention from regulators.
“Unfortunately, and in line with the comments of the AHA, once formal conditions are imposed on a licensed venue, it is very difficult to have them removed. In our view, the large majority of venues are exceeding their responsibilities in so far as managing and reducing alcohol related violence is concerned.”
The AHA suggests that any operators who feel they are being intimidated or coerced into agreeing to terms for their accords, should not sign up to the terms in question.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

NSW Police settle Tort claim in favour of S&B client

Sylvester and Browne Lawyers are proud to announce the settlement of a civil compensation (Tort) claim by the NSW Police in favour of our client. The numerous claims in tort related to the actions of two NSW Highway Patrol officers in detaining and later charging our client with a number of criminal offences in 2011.

The client was driving to pick up his son from Tae Kwon Do lessons at Cronulla in Sydney's south when he was stopped by Highway Patrol Police who suspected that he had tried to avoid a random breath testing site further down the road.  When the client stepped from his vehicle to speak to officer, he was arrested, handcuffed and placed face down on the roadway for approximately 15 minutes in front of both his young son and daughter. During this time, other young Tae Kwon Do class participants and their families have walked past the client whilst handcuffed. In our view, it should have been obvious to the overzealous officers involved that our client was in fact picking up his son from the Tae Kwon Do class. This is backed up by the Police in-car-video footage which clearly shows the client pointing out of the driver's side window towards a group of boys dressed in Tae Kwon Do outfits. This appears to have been dismissed by the officers involved.

For some unknown reason, one of the officers has requested the attendance of a drug detection dog to conduct a search the client's car. No drugs were found. The client was then breath tested which proved negative. Perhaps fearing that they may have overstepped their authority, our client was then issued with court attendance notices for Assault Police and Resist Arrest. These charges were eventually withdrawn by Police Prosecutions some 5 months later without any apology or acknowledgement regarding the alleged wrongdoing of the officers involved.

In August 2013, the NSW Police agreed on confidential terms to settle the matter out of court.

Discussing the case generally, Principal Lawyer David Sylvester said, "It is unfortunate fact that sometimes Police abuse their powers during the execution of their duty. As a result, the victims of this abuse often suffer ongoing trauma associated with the incident. In many cases, the anger and hurt suffered by the aggrieved person tends to be exacerbated by the failure of the Police to apologise or accept responsibility for their actions."

Whilst the client is happy that the claim has been settled, he remains angered by the actions of the subject Highway Patrol officers. He is hopeful that this settlement will result in appropriate sanction for the officers and further training for Police generally so that tortious actions such as these can be avoided in the future.