This section will guide you through the process of objecting to a special licence in your community.
Has this event occurred previously?
In some cases, the special event may have occurred previously. If this is the case, you can start to collect evidence before the next special licence application. You can create an incident log for this, listing different types of amenity and good order effects that have arisen from the event.
This list may help you consider amenity and good order effects, but you could think of other examples.
It is useful if you always document any alcohol-related incidents in your community. You can use this incident log to help you.
Know the closing date for objections
Not all special licence applications will be publicly notified. Whether the public will be notified is at the discretion of the district licensing committee secretary. You will need to keep a keen eye out to spot them. It may be useful to get in touch with your local council licensing team or the licensing committee secretary to clarify how to find out about applications.
Think about all of the evidence that you can use to support an objection – check your incident log. You can ask to present additional evidence at the hearing. But make sure you provide some detail as to why licence applications do not meet the criteria in the Act.
Get others involved in your objection
Talk to others in your community who may share your concerns or be affected by the issue of the licence. Meet to talk about the application. Remember, they don't have to write their own objection - you could do a community objection in the form of a petition. See below.
Think about getting school principals, church ministers local businesses, and other community leaders involved. It doesn't just have to be residents. The Local Corps and church ministers of the Salvation Army can also assist in navigating the alcohol objection process.
Write your objection letter or petition
Feel free to use the template below for your objection letter. Examples of objection letters for new on-licences, and for on-licence renewals are included.
Remember - you don't need to have all your information and evidence prepared for the objection letter. You can collect extra evidence to back up your objection before the hearing takes place.
Support your objection with local data and research where available.
Make sure you are clear about what you want - Do you want the application to be refused altogether? Or would you be OK if certain conditions were in place?
Whatever the case, have some ideas about any special conditions you believe would be appropriate for the application.
If you plan on collecting signatures in the form of a community petition, feel free to use this template:
Circulate the objection or petition template to others
Distribute the objection template to others in the community (those who live or work close to the premises). Encourage others to complete the objection letter and send to your local Council.
Or start to gather names, addresses and signatures on the community petition.
It is important that community objectors are able to attend a hearing of the District Licensing Committee in person.
It will be very useful to find out if the three reporting agencies (Council, Police and Health Authorities) plan to oppose the application. If there is opposition from the reporting agencies, your objection has a much better chance of success.
Make sure that everyone is fully aware of the process including when the objection needs to be lodged and that they may be required to attend a hearing.
Send your objection to the licensing team at your local council.
Submit your objection to your local licensing team before the closing date.
For assistance, contact the regulatory agencies in your area.
You will receive an acknowledgement of your objection fairly promptly. If you don’t it might be worth checking with the licensing team or secretary of the district licensing committee. Keep gathering evidence - you can present this additional evidence at the hearing.
The applicant may ask to meet with the objectors to resolve issues
It is not uncommon for the applicant to seek to talk to the objectors to see if any perceived issues can be resolved. Remember that they have your contact details and the reasons for your objection.
It is up to you whether you meet the applicant. Do not feel coerced into doing so. Some communities have had successes with meeting applicants and issues have been resolved without a hearing taking place.
Attend the hearing
If you want your objection to count you will need to attend the hearing. If you need to, arrange time off work and/or care for your children.
If you can’t attend the hearing please tell the hearings advisor, and nominate someone (another objector perhaps) to represent your objection.
Consider asking witnesses to present
Try to meet with other objectors or at least discuss the upcoming hearing with them. Identify any gaps, inconsistencies and how these might be addressed.
Arrange any witnesses and/or support people you might need. Think about noise specialists, etc.
If you are appearing on behalf of a group make sure everyone knows about the hearing, and allocate them a role if appropriate.
Prepare a short summary of your key points and practice it. Summarise any further evidence that you have gathered since submitting your objection.
Prepare to be cross-examined
You might be cross-examined so put yourself in the shoes of the applicant and think about any possible questions that they may wish to ask or challenge you on. Prepare some possible responses to these.
You may also have the opportunity to cross examine the applicant. If the regulatory agencies (council inspectors, health, police) are opposing and presenting evidence, you may have the opportunity to cross examine them too. Think about what questions you would like to ask them and write them down.
You might consider getting legal support. While there is usually a cost for this you might be able to get assistance.
You may consider contacting Community Law, or finding out if there are other community groups in your area with access to legal resources.
If you are approached by or informing the media regarding the objection/hearing extra care is needed as this is a legal process. For more information and advice, click here.
Be on time. Introduce yourself to Council staff when you arrive.
There will be four areas for participants to sit. The regulatory agencies will sit on one side and the objectors opposite. The applicant and their advisors sit opposite the committee chair and members. The committee will enter the room last – it is customary for all parties to stand while the committee takes their seats.
Follow the direction of the DLC/ARLA chair and respect the authority of the Committee or Authority. When speaking, speak clearly and confidently. If there is a microphone, ensure it is switched on when you speak (these sessions are usually recorded for transcription).
After the hearing – the decision
You will be advised of the decision and if you are not happy with this you have the right to appeal it. Information about how to do this and when should be included in the correspondence with the decision.
For more information on the Hearing Process, check out the Health Promotion Agency's document on licensing objections (page 24-28).