Notification of 'High Risk' venues within the Sydney CBD Precinct
Recently, the NSW Office of Liquor Gaming & Racing (OLGR) have sent letters to numerous licensees and/or licensed premises within the newly created Sydney CBD Precinct advising that pursuant to section 116B of the Liquor Act 2007 (the 'Act'), 'licensed premises'
(i) on which liquor may be sold for consumption on the premises, and
(ii) that are authorised to trade after midnight at least once a week on a regular basis, and
(iii) that have a patron capacity (as determined by the Director-General) of more than 120 patrons
will be deemed to be 'High Risk' venues and as such will be subject to the Lock-out & Sales Cessation restrictions for the Sydney CBD precinct (as outlined in sections 53Y(1)(d) & 53Z(1)(d) of the Liquor Regulations 2008). The imposition of these additional restrictions/conditions on venues within the Sydney CBD Precinct follows on from previous restrictions placed upon venues within the Kings Cross Precinct.
Notwithstanding that venues may be able to apply for an exemption (via the Regulations) in regard to the above restrictions, it is very important that licensees and venue owners familiarise themselves with the specifics of their current liquor licence and any restrictions and/or conditions that may have been imposed.
As the law currently stands (and as outlined above), although licensees of declared High Risk venues in the Sydney CBD Precinct are generally caught by both the lock-out and sales cessation restrictions, they are NOT automatically subject to other conditions that may be instituted by the Director (OLGR) by virtue of section 116I of the Act. Section 116I outlines that high risk venues may also be subject to additional conditions including the prohibition/restriction on the use of glass containers and bottles within the venue and serving high alcohol content drinks such as shots.
Sylvester and Browne Lawyers are concerned that some licensees/venues have been incorrectly informed by licensing Police that their venues are subject to the restrictions as set out in section 116I of the Act when this is clearly not the case. Our interpretation of the Act and the Regulations has been confirmed by the OLGR who are now attempting to liaise with their colleagues in the NSW Police Force regarding the error. If and when approached by NSW Licensing Police, licensees and venue managers should request details of the breaches alleged including the section/s contravened under the Act or Regulations.
Interestingly. the wording in the letters sent suggests that the OLGR and Police may be gearing up to impose additional conditions on some perceived high risk venues within the Sydney CBD Precinct in line with the Plan of Management for the Sydney CBD Precinct. As such, venue operators and licensees should remain vigilant towards managing conditions that may lead to alcohol related violence including the responsible service of alcohol. It is likely that any attempts by the OLGR or Police to impose further onerous conditions will be closely linked to intelligence gathered by both covert/non-covert surveillance and relevant incidents inside and in the vicinity of perceived high risk venues.
Should any licensees, owners or venue management require further advice regarding these issues, please feel free to contact us on (02) 8251 0096 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.