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Alcohol at your events

Alcohol is regulated in NZ by the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012. The object is to promote the safe and responsible sale, supply and consumption of alcohol and minimise the harm caused by inappropriate or excessive alcohol consumption.

There are provision in the act that allow you to be charged with the following offence under the act:

Use of unlicensed premises as place of resort for consumption of alcohol.

Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 – Section 235

A place of resort is any place where people go to drink alcohol. This does not necessarily mean that drinking alcohol is the main activity, but that it is a significant part of the situation.

Hint – if there is an alcohol related incident, it’s more likely than not that alcohol has formed a significant part of the situation.

How does this apply to your events?

You need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is alcohol consumption the main or a significant part of the event?
  • Are attendees being charged any sort of fee?
    • Note – if you charge for membership, this may include an event that is made members.
  • Could this event come to the attention of Police due to the probable / possible behaviour of attendees?
    • In other words how many people will be attending – and for a party at a private residence remember this is always potentially a concern.
  • Could the event happen successfully without alcohol?

If you answer “yes” to the first three points and “no” to the last then it is likely that you need a licence for the event. This means either holding the event in a premise that already has a licence, like Haere-roa, or by applying for a Special Licence for a public area or venue.

Special Licences

To see details around Special Licences in Christchurch head to the Christchurch City Council Website.

Some key points apply however:

  • You cannot get a special licence for private residences – so that means you cannot licence your flat or home.
  • You must apply for a special licence at least 20 working days prior to the event date.
  • You cannot allow BYO under a special licence.

Consequences of getting this wrong

Generally it will only be when an event gets out of hand that police will become involved in cleaning up the mess.

If you are running an illegal event and something really bad happens are you confident you are not exposed to any criminal liability?

Someone convicted of operating a ‘place of resort’ is liable to a fine of not more than $20,000.

In the case of serious incident occurring as a result of the actions or omissions of the organiser there are other far more serious offences contained in the Crime Act 1961.

If in doubt, get in touch with us for a conversation. We’re happy to help.

Updated on May 11, 2020

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