This article originally appeared in QHA Review magazine, November 2018 edition
As we enter the Christmas period, now is a good time for a quick reminder on the restrictions under the Liquor Act 1992 (Qld) (the Act) in relation to promotions and advertising of events at your premises.
Requirements under the Act
Targeted at minimising irresponsible consumption of alcohol at licensed premises, section 142ZZ(2) of the Act states that unacceptable practices and promotions are those that:
- may encourage the irresponsible consumption of liquor;
- may discourage a patron from monitoring or controlling their consumption of liquor;
- may be likely to have a special appeal to children (for example, due to the use of imagery, names, motifs or characters that are likely to be attractive to children);
- are indecent or offensive;
- use emotive descriptions that are likely to encourage irresponsible consumption of liquor;
- involve providing free drinks, or drinks at discounts, in a way that encourages patrons to consume liquor more rapidly than they would otherwise do; or
- are prescribed by the Liquor Regulation 2002 as an unacceptable practice or promotion.
Section 142ZZ(1) of the Act also provides that licensees are responsible for assessing practices and promotions to ensure they are not unacceptable. If a licensee engages in or allows a person to engage in an unacceptable practice or promotion in the conduct of a business on the relevant premises, they could face penalties of up to 100 penalty units, or $13,055, for each offence. Additionally, the Commissioner may issue compliance notices requiring the licensee to cease a practice or promotion or to take further action to prevent further contravention of the Act.
These issues are also the subject of the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation’s (OLGR) Guideline 60. The Guideline assists to inform licensees about the attitude the Commissioner is likely to adopt when considering if a practice or promotion is unacceptable, by expanding on the above categories in the Act with examples of lawfully unacceptable and prohibited practices and promotions.
The examples provided are not exhaustive. Practices and promotions may be considered unacceptable:
- regardless of how they are managed and controlled, due to their characteristics and associated potential harm; or
- unless they are conducted in line with a documented management plan that includes harm minimisation measures to ensure stated negative outcomes (e.g. rapid or excessive consumption of alcohol) do not occur and all staff are aware of such measures.
Licensees must be vigilant to ensure compliance. You should familiarise yourself with Guideline 60, and consider incorporating these requirements into your venue’s risk-assessed management plan (RAMP).
You should be mindful that the examples above are intended to be a guide and are not exhaustive of the conduct which could potentially be unlawful. Licensees should not seek to circumvent these examples on technicalities as it is likely that the purpose of the Act, rather than just the specific exclusions noted in section 142ZZ(2), will be relied on by the Commissioner.
If you have any queries or particular concerns about how these requirements may affect your business and its practices and promotions over the festive season, please get in contact.