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High Court Upholds Hamilton Bar Liquor Ban

High Court Upholds Hamilton Bar Liquor Ban

The High Court has upheld a decision by the Liquor Licensing Authority not to renew the liquor licence of a Hamilton bar, which promoted speed drinking.

Waikato District Health Board health protection advisor Ross Henderson today welcomed Justice Cooper’s written decision rejecting the appeal by Pie Lab owner Benjamin Henwood.

“While this decision was about Pie Lab it also cements in place the ruling against the promotion of shots and speed drinking.

“Any bar that is promoting cheap shots, and there are others in Hamilton, is now on notice.

“Managers that indulge in irresponsible or predatory bar practices may not recognise the harm they do but the court does.

“The High Court also acknowledged that there seemed to have been little change in the operation of the bar over the course of the year,” said Mr Henderson.

Binge drinking is a major contributor to alcohol related harm, including violence, and adverse health outcomes.

The Pie Lab, on Victoria St, appeared before the authority in July to answer charges of selling alcohol to intoxicated people and selling a potent shot mix – The Pie Lab 151 – made with 75.5 per cent Bacardi 151 and a "secret mix".

Investigators said they found "red spew" on the floor at least 10 times between July 2009 and July 2010 and a patron slumped at the bar in front of the bar's general manager, Rey Estuye.

Mr Henderson said Waikato DHB opposed the renewal not only because of the condition of the premises but also the nature of the service.

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“This was not a hospitality environment by any normal standards.

“What was really on trial here was the speed drinking, shot bar environment. As far as we were concerned, this is a liquor abusive way of serving and consuming alcohol. This decision sets a very important precedent.

“This style of drinking is associated with serious problems

“This is not rocket science. If a customer vomits it’s because they’re drunk, and been served, far too much alcohol.

“Unfortunately vomiting is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to harm. We’re just as worried about the non-consensual, drunken, unprotected sex, and the violence. Many of these intoxicated young people become the victims of violence.

“We’ve got no doubt that bars that operate like this make a significant contribution to the alcohol harm and disorder in the city. They also make life difficult for the other bars. They serve cheap, strong drinks but don’t have the overheads that come with providing real hospitality.

“It’s time we cleaned up our act in Hamilton, bars like this are an embarrassment,” he said.

Attached is a copy of the High Court decision.


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