First license suspension under demerit system takes place

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
NSW government to appeal Melco decision

Victoria has issued its first licence suspension under the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) demerit system.

The Bass Lounge, situated on Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, was issued with a written notice of suspension after it recorded a fifth demerit point for non-compliance.

Under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998, liquor licensees incur demerit points relating to offences such as supplying liquor to an intoxicated person, permitting a drunk person on their premises or supplying liquor to an underage person on a licensed premises, according to The Shout.

A VCGLR spokesperson said “The VCGLR issued a written notice of suspension to the licensee of Bass Lounge in Little Bourke Street, Melbourne, after it recorded a fifth demerit point for non-compliance.

“As a result, the venue was banned from selling liquor for a 24-hour period from 7.00am on Friday 4 October 2019.

“A suspension of licence is triggered when a licensed venue reaches a threshold number of demerit points (five, 10 and 15 demerits).

“The case of Bass Lounge is the first instance where a demerit points threshold has been reached by a licensee in Victoria. The demerit points system is designed to encourage compliance with liquor laws and foster a responsible liquor industry.”

Licensees who incur a demerit point are required to undertake additional training and education to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities as liquor licensees and to reduce their chances of additional breaches.

Venue who don’t comply with liquor laws can face a variety of enforcement actions which in addition to demerit points include warnings, infringement notices, disciplinary action and prosecution.

Spokesperson outlines seriousness of non-compliance

The spokesperson for the VCGLR also mentioned that “with over 11,750 liquor inspections undertaken so far this year, the VCGLR takes matters of non-compliance seriously and will take appropriate enforcement action in such cases.

“The VCGLR is committed to regulating Victoria’s gambling and liquor industries to ensure their integrity and to minimise harm so that Victorians and visitors can enjoy safe and responsible gambling and liquor environments.”

One offence on a business premise equates to one demerit point. Demerit points apply for a period of three years from the date on which the first demerit point is recorded against the licence.

5 demerit points accrued results in a 24-hour suspension. 10 demerit points, a 7-day suspension and 15 demerit points, a 28-day suspension.

A non-compliance incident that results in a demerit point are supplying liquor to an intoxicated person, permitting a drunken/disorderly person on licensed premises, supplying liquor to an underage person, permitting liquor to be supplied to an underage person, supplying liquor to an underage person on licensed premises and permitting an underage person on licensed premises, other than as permitted.

A non-compliance incident is said to have occurred if any one of these incidents occurs and an infringement notice for this offence has been paid in full or partially paid, an infringement in respect of one of these offences has been lodged at the Infringements Court and an Enforcement Order has been issued or the offence has been successfully prosecuted.

Licensees are able to contest infringement notices, or defend themselves against charges in court. However, once an infringement notice has been paid (in part or in full), or there has been a successful prosecution or the issue of an Enforcement Notice, a demerit point will be applied to the licence.

If a licensee is successful in defending their case, no demerit point will be incurred as the non-compliance incident was not proven.

The current demerit point register has another Melbourne CBD bar on 4 demerit points.

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