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ALAC welcomes Appeal Court decision

ALAC welcomes Appeal Court decision

Prosecuting bars, supermarkets and off-licenses for selling alcohol to minors is critical to reducing alcohol-related harm to young people, says the Alcohol Advisory Council.

Welcoming the Court of Appeal decision upholding the power of the Liquor Licensing Authority, ALAC Chief Executive Officer Dr Mike MacAvoy said people just don’t seem to understand the dangers of supplying minors with large amounts of alcohol.

“There’s been great progress by many outlets, but too many still refuse to take the law seriously.

“Controlled purchase operations – using volunteer minors to purchase alcohol under police supervision - are an essential part of our armourment in exposing those outlets who persist in flouting the law.”

Dr MacAvoy said the ruling was an important confirmation of the validity of the controlled purchase operations which were a highly effective tool in identifying those premises that breached the law and sold alcohol to minors.

The High Court decision, which has now been overturned on appeal, would have had the effect of limiting the power of the Liquor Licensing Authority.

The Court of Appeal ruling follows a challenge by five Christchurch outlets whose licences were suspended after a controlled purchase operation run by the Christchurch Agencies caught them selling liquor to young people aged 15 to 17.

The Liquor Licensing Authority suspended the licences of three supermarkets, a food store and three taverns for up to five days.

The five licensees appealed to the High Court which overturned the suspension orders on the grounds that the Authority should not punish single instances of offending and that the cases should have been heard by the District Court not the LLA.

However, this week the Court of Appeal found there was no unfairness.

The authority’s’ principal reason was to uphold the integrity and effectives of the licensing system. It was within the scope of its power to reach the decision it did.

For this reason the appeal against the judgment of the High court must be allowed and the Licensing Authority Decision’s reinstated.

Dr MacAvoy said ALAC believed the Authority was an important court because they were the expert body on the interpretation and enforcement of liquor licensing laws.

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