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Conditions licensed premises must comply with

Licensees have a range of responsibilities. These vary depending on the licence type and any particular conditions placed on the licence.

Th​ere are some key conditions for licensed premises, they must:

  • Have a manager on duty (on-licences and off-licences and sometimes for clubs if it is a condition of their licence)
  • Operate only within their permitted trading hours
  • Display required signage
  • Refuse entry (in restricted areas) and/or service to minors (<18 years). For information on supply of alcohol to young people, click here.
  • Refuse entry and service to intoxicated persons (see below)
  • Have a range of food items available (on-licence and club licence)
  • Provide information and advice on safe transport options
  • (in the case of supermarkets and grocery outlets) display alcohol in a single area and not promote it outside of this. Click here to read more.
  • Not promote alcohol irresponsibly
  • Comply with their responsibilities regarding the Smoke-free Environments Act; and comply with responsibilities regarding gaming machines (if they have any).

Note:  A licensed premises MUST NOT:

  • Sell or supply alcohol to an intoxicated person
  • Allow a person to become intoxicated on their premises
  • Allow a person who is intoxicated to remain in the licensed premises

Your local council also has the powers to control excessive noise, and also takes care of many local amenities, refuse collection, and cleaning of public spaces. If any of these need attention they will be pleased to hear from you. Further information on the specific conditions for on-licences, off-licences club licences and special licences can be found by clicking on the links.

The time when alcohol consumption must end - 'last drinks'

The law allows patrons of bars or taverns (where the principal business is the sale of alcohol) to be in the premises for 30 minutes after alcohol sales are required to end. For example, if a bar has the licensed hours of 8am to 12am, then they can allow patrons to finish their drinks until 12:30am. But no sales of alcohol can take place after 12am. At 12:30am, the patrons must leave the premises.

For all other types of premises (e.g. restaurants, cafes, brothels, theatres, etc) all alcohol consumption must occur within the licensed hours only. For example, if a restaurant has the licensed hours of 8am to 11pm, no alcohol consumption is to occur after 11pm and all alcohol should be removed from the tables. Diners can carry on being in the restaurant, meals can be served, etc, but no consumption is to take place. These rules also apply to sports and other clubs, as well as special licences.

Penalties for non-compliance

If a licensee or duty manager is found to be in breach of licence conditions they are subject to a range of penalties. These range from fines, licence suspensions or cancellation.

Penalties for not complying with the law

Regulatory agencies often check compliance with the law

From time to time, a Council Licensing Inspector or representative from the police and health authorities may visit licensed premises in your community to conduct a compliance check. They will check if premises are meeting the conditions of their licence and the provisions of the Act.  They may also work with licensees to improve management of premises as it relates to the sale and supply of alcohol.

On occasion, other inspectors may also visit. This includes:

  • Environmental Health Officer
  • Fire Service staff 
  • Dangerous Goods Inspector
  • WorkSafe Inspector
  • Smokefree Enforcement Officer
  • Gaming Compliance Inspector (Department of Internal Affairs)
  • Building Safety Officer

Māori Wardens also have specific powers constituted under the Māori Community Development Act 1962 to limit unruly behaviour on licensed premises. Section 31 of the Act states that a “Māori Warden may at any reasonable time enter any licensed premises in any area where he is authorised to carry out his duties and warn the licensee or any servant of the licensee to abstain from selling or supplying liquor to any Māori who in the opinion of the Warden is in a state of intoxication, or is violent, quarrelsome, or disorderly, or is likely to become so, whether intoxicated or not”.