Objecting to an alcohol licence
Decisions about the way alcohol is sold in Aotearoa New Zealand are mostly made at a local level. The Ministry of Justice administers the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, while local councils implement it with input from New Zealand Police and Te Whatu Ora.
Alcohol licensing has a direct impact on communities, including on health, wellbeing, safety, amenity and good order, as well as having economic implications. The Act provides a range of settings to enable communities to influence alcohol licensing decisions in their neighbourhood, according to its character and circumstance, and its experience with alcohol-related harm.
The Sale & Supply of Alcohol Act 2012
The object of section 4 of this Act is:
The Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Community Participation) Amendment Act 2023 (the Amendment Act), makes it easier for communities to have a say in alcohol regulation in their area, by making targeted changes to the alcohol licensing process in the Act.
There are two sets of changes.
From 31 August 2023
The first set of changes, which are now in effect, allow any person to object to licence applications as an individual or a representative of a group or an organisation. There are narrow exceptions for trade competitors and their surrogates.
The time for objectors to make an objection to an application has been extended from 15 to 25 working days. This gives people and groups more time to become aware of applications and submit objections. Working days are weekdays, excluding public holidays, and excluding the period 20 December–15 January. Mondays where a public holiday falls on a weekend and is ‘Mondayised’ are also excluded – for example, Waitangi Day or ANZAC Day.
From 30 May 2024
The second set of changes are to the way licensing hearings are run. These require district licensing committee (DLC) hearings to avoid unnecessary formality, and do not allow participants to be cross-examined.
The time before the changes come into effect means people can prepare. The Ministry of Justice will provide information about these changes in 2024.
You no longer need to show the DLC you have “greater interest than the public generally” when objecting to a licence application.
Any person can object to an application for a licence, variation of licence conditions, renewal of licence, or special licence, whether as an individual or representative of a group or organisation. There are narrow exceptions for trade competitors and their surrogates.
This change accommodates people who were excluded from participating in licensing hearings who may not live in the area but spend time there due to family connections, living rurally, or having a particular connection to the area.
Objections still need to be based on the licensing criteria set out in the Act.
You can object as an individual, or as the representative of a group or organisation.
A trade competitor is a person who holds an alcohol licence, regardless of whether they actually sell alcohol or where they sell it. Trade competitors cannot object if their objection is about trade.
A surrogate is a person receiving, or likely to receive, direct or indirect help from a trade competitor to object to an application. Surrogate trade competitors also cannot object.
These changes apply to all licensing types – new licences, renewal licences, special licences, and variations of conditions.
Your objection still needs to be based on the criteria in the Act. Look to the following parts of the Act to see which grounds apply for applications for:
- new licences – sections 102 and 105
- variation of conditions – section 120
- renewal – sections 128 and 131
- special licences – section 140 and section 142.
The Sale & Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 (section 105) identifies the following as valid grounds for objecting to the application for a new, or renewed, alcohol licence:
- the object of the Act
- suitability of the applicant
- any relevant local alcohol policy
- days and hours when alcohol will be sold
- the design and layout of any proposed premises
- whether the applicant is engaged in, or proposes to engage in, on the premises the sale of goods other than alcohol, low-alcohol refreshments, non-alcoholic refreshments and food; and if so, which goods
- whether the applicant is engaged in, or proposes to engage in, on the premises the provision of services other than those directly related to the sale of alcohol, low-alcohol refreshments, non-alcoholic refreshments and food; and if so, which services
- whether the amenity and good order of the locality would likely be reduced, to more than a minor extent, by the effects of the issue of the licence
- whether the amenity and good order of the locality are already so badly affected by existing licences that it is not desirable to issue any further licences
- whether the applicant has appropriate systems, staff and training to comply with the law.
An objection to a new alcohol licence or renewal must be:
- filed with the Secretary of the DLC within 25 working days of the first public notice announcing an application has been made; and
- outlined in a letter stating you wish to object and your reasons why (you must refer to relevant criteria)
When the DLC receives an objection, the objector is sent an acknowledgement letter and a copy of the objection is sent to the applicant.
If the DLC believes the objection meets the criteria of section 105 or 131 of the Act, it will hold a public hearing with all parties. The DLC will write and notify all those involved of the hearing date and time.
However, if the DLC decides an objection does not meet the criteria of section 105 of the Act, it may make a decision based on information and reports provided in the application rather than hold a hearing.
Objectors have 25 working days to object
The time for objectors to make an objection to an application has been extended from 15 to 25 working days. This gives people and groups more time to become aware of applications and submit objections.
Working days are weekdays, excluding public holidays, and excluding the period 20 December–15 January. Mondays where a public holiday falls on a weekend and is ‘Mondayised’ are also excluded – for example, Waitangi Day or ANZAC Day.
What to include in your objection
Your letter of objection must include:
- the name and location of the licensed premises or proposed premises
- your grounds for objection
- your name, address and contact details including phone number.
Public objections to alcohol licence applications cannot be made anonymously under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.
Individual and group objections
You can object as an individual or as the representative of a group or organisation.
If your objection is representing a group of people, be prepared to have a spokesperson for the group who will be willing to appear at any hearing.
Help with making an objection
If you would like more information on preparing an objection or preparing for a hearing of the District Licensing Committee, you can:
- download guidance information from the Health Promotion Agency.
- contact Community Law Alcohol Harm Reduction Project, which supports communities in Wellington, Kāpiti and Hutt Valley to navigate new licence and renewal processes, from initially objecting to participating in decision-making hearings
- see ActionPoint (communities targeting alcohol harm)
- contact a lawyer for legal advice.
See current public notices for alcohol licence applications on our website. Public notices are also advertised in our local newspapers, in the following format:
Public Notice of Application for Licence
Section 101, Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012
The days on which and the hours during which alcohol is/or is intended to be sold under the licence is:
<Days and hours>
The application may be inspected during ordinary office hours at the office of the Kapiti Coast District Licensing Committee at 175 Rimu Road, Paraparaumu.
Any person who is entitled to object and who wishes to object to the grant of the application may, not later than 25 working days after the date of the first publication of this notice, file a notice in writing of the objection with the Secretary of the District Licensing Committee, C/- Kapiti Coast District Council, Private Bag 60601, Paraparaumu 5254.
No objection to the issue/renewal of a licence may be made in relation to a matter other than a matter specified in Section 105/131 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.
This is the first/only publication of this notice.
If you would like further information on preparing an objection or preparing for a hearing of the District Licensing Committee, you can download guidance information from the Health Promotion Agency.
You can sign up for email notifications for public notices.
- Developing a local alcohol policy for Kāpiti
- Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 – legislation.govt.nz
- Sale and Supply of Alcohol Regulations 2013
- About the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 – Health Promotion Agency
- Control of Alcohol in Public Places Bylaw 2018
- Guides to the licensing process (applying and objecting)