Liquor Licence Transfers: A Quick Refresher

As featured in the May 2021 edition of Queensland Hotels Association’s QHA Review.

Our firm represents a very large number of parties involved in pub and other transactions. Within the last five months we have noticed a flurry of activity within the pub and hospitality space.

We believe that this flurry can be attributed to a couple of things, namely:

  1. low interest rates; and
  2. the interest of southern states in Queensland as a state for investment given its COVID-safe record.

However, we have also noticed that the timeframe for applications for transfer of liquor and gaming licences associated with pubs seems to have blown out a little, taking between 2 – 3 months for liquor licence transfers, and between 4 – 6 months for those liquor applications submitted in conjunction with a new gaming machine licence.

In the next month’s edition of QHA Review, we will revisit the concept of interim authorities as an available tool to facilitate handovers of pubs even where the final approvals have not been obtained.

In this month’s article, we focus on the transfer process specifically for a Commercial Hotel Liquor Licence. The overarching test that is applied upon the transfer of a liquor licence is whether the commissioner is satisfied that the applicant is a “fit and proper” person. In assessing this, the commissioner will consider whether the applicant:

  • is declared bankrupt;
  • has had no major convictions within the last 5 years;
  • has had no substantial convictions under the Liquor Act;
  • can demonstrate that they know and understand the obligations of a licensee, specifically relating to the type of licence;
  • does not have a history of behaviour that would make them unsuitable to hold a licence (determined by a police report/reference check); and
  • can demonstrate a responsible attitude to managing and carrying out their financial obligations.

The applicant will have the opportunity to demonstrate that they are a “fit and proper” person by completing the Application for Transfer of Liquor Licence. Within this form there are various sections that the applicant will have to complete, based on:

  • the applicant’s structure (i.e. company, limited club, individual);
  • their tenure at the premises (i.e. freeholder owner, lessee);
  • whether they propose to change any of the services at the premises; and
  • what their experience running a licensed premises is.

In addition to completing the above, the applicant will be required to provide:

  • Form 5 Personal details schedule/personal probity form for all individuals having an interest in the applicant. Where an applicant is a company, this includes shareholders and directors;
  • a copy of the power of attorney (if signatures of the application have been signed under a power of attorney);
  • a copy of the constitution or memorandum and articles of association (if a community club);
  • a copy of a current company extract (if a company); and
  • a Risk Assessed Management Plan (RAMP).

A RAMP is a document that contains information about the prescribed practices and procedures under the Liquor Regulation 2002 for the conduct of business at the premises.

Below are some examples of what a RAMP would be required to address:

  • staff training and practices with respect to the responsible service of alcohol;
  • whether the business is a member of the liquor accord;
  • noise mitigation, security, transport services and lighting at the premises;
  • catering services available for the provision of meals to patrons;
  • staff training with respect to liquor licensing legislation;
  • management practices with respect to preventing minors;
  • management practices with respect to intoxicated and disorderly conduct;
  • the business impact on the amenity of the community; and
  • ensuring the conduct of the business complies with relevant legislation.

It is clear that the transfer process for a Commercial Hotel Liquor Licence is not a “box-ticking” exercise, and OLGR will meticulously consider whether an applicant is a “fit and proper” person. As discussed above, parties should seriously consider the prospect of being granted a transfer of licence prior to entering into a contract to purchase or sell a business.

Should you have any queries or require any further information regarding the process for a transfer of a liquor licence please contact me on (07) 3224 0230.

“The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication.”
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