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The Liquor Trade in the Western Cape

The Western Cape Liquor Act 2008 came into force on 1 April 2012. This Act does not have the general criminal provision that is found in the statutes of some other provinces, but there is a comprehensive collection of specified offences.

A. Retailers and traders

  1. A person may not sell liquor unless licenced to do so1 in terms of the Act (or the Liquor Act 2003, or the Liquor Act 1989) and it is an offence to contravene this provision.2

  2. A person who is authorised to sell liquor must do so in accordance with the conditions of his licence. It is an offence to do otherwise.3

  3. Where there is (only4)5 an on-consumption licence, all liquor sold must be consumed on the licensed premises only, and no liquor may be removed from the licensed premises. It is an offence to contravene this provision.6

  4. Similarly, in the case of (only) an off-consumption licence, no container containing liquor may be opened, and no liquor may be consumed on the licensed premises – except for tasting purposes.7 8

  5. It is a crime to make material changes to the nature of the business in respect of which a licence has been granted, without the prior written consent of the presiding officer.9 10

  6. It is an offence to permit any person (other than the licensee or existing shareholder) to acquire a financial interest of more than five per cent in the licensed business without the prior written consent of the presiding officer.11

  7. It is a crime to sell, or supply from, or allow the consumption of liquor on, the licenced premises outside the statutory trading hours,12 or as determined by the particular municipality.13

  8. The licensee commits an offence if he does not keep a record of all liquor sold for consumption off the licensed premises.14

  9. It is an offence to sell to one person, for consumption off the licensed premises, more liquor in a single day than the quantity prescribed by the Minister.1516

  10. If you sell or supply liquor to a drunk person you commit an offence.1718

  11. If you are a licensee, or a person in charge of licensed premises, you commit an offence if you allow a drunk and disorderly person to remain upon those premises.19

  12. It is an offence to sell or supply liquor in a container which does not conform to the prescribed standards and specifications.20

  13. It is an offence to sell liquor to a person, knowing (or having reasonable grounds to suspect) that such person will resell the liquor otherwise than is permitted in terms of the Act.21

  14. It is a crime to receive or hold any document or movable property as security, or in pledge for the payment of a debt relating to the sale of liquor.22

  15. If the manager, agent or employee of a licensee does or omits to do anything, which, if it were done or omitted by the licensee, would be an offence in terms of the Act, the licensee23 is deemed to have done or omitted to do that act,24 and the other person is also liable therefor as if he was the licensee.25

B. Licensed premises

  1. If the business of a retail food store is carried on, on the licenced premises, the licensee may not sell liquor other than natural wine. He commits an offence by doing otherwise.26

  2. A retail food store must sell liquor only from a designated area, which must be rendered inaccessible to the public at the times when liquor may not be sold.27

  3. A licensee may not let the licence to another person, or allow another person to carry on business in terms of the licence or allow another person to use the licensed premises. It is a crime to contravene this provision.28

  4. Except with the prior written consent of the presiding officer, it is an offence to carry out any structural alteration, addition, reconstruction or extension of or to the licensed premises.29

  5. You may not conduct business under the licence on premises on which any other business, or any trade or occupation is carried on or pursued, unless the presiding officer determines otherwise. It is an offence to do so.30

  6. A licensee must store liquor only on the licensed premises, or in such additional place approved by the Liquor Licensing Tribunal.31

  7. It is an offence to sell or supply from, or allow the consumption of liquor in such additional place of storage.32

  8. It is a criminal offence to sell or supply liquor from any place other than the licensed premises.33

  9. As a licensee, you commit an offence if you:
    • permit the licensed premises to be used as a brothel, or frequented by prostitutes;34
    • allow a supplier of unlawful drugs to remain on the licensed premises;35 or
    • allow the sale, use or possession of drugs upon the premises in contravention of any law.36
  10. The Minister may prescribe that notices must be displayed on licensed premises, their content, and the manner in which they are to be displayed. It is an offence to fail to display such a notice as prescribed.37

C. Deliveries by off-licence retailers

  1. One of the conditions of an off-consumption licence is that liquor may not be delivered from any vehicle unless the liquor was ordered from the licensed premises before the dispatch of the liquor and an invoice was issued (in the prescribed manner) and the original of which is retained on the licensed premises. It is an offence to contravene this provision.38

  2. Moreover, liquor may be delivered only to the address shown on the invoice and it is an offence to do otherwise.39

  3. A legible copy of the invoice must be retained in the delivery vehicle from the time of dispatch to the time of delivery of the liquor, when it must be handed to the person accepting delivery. Failure to comply with this is an offence.40

  4. A purchaser may not accept delivery of liquor if it is not accompanied by an invoice describing the name, address and licence number of the supplier as well as the nature, quantity and purchase price of the liquor supplied. To do otherwise is an offence.41

D. Micromanufacturing42

  1. It is an offence to micromanufacture liquor without a licence issued in terms of the Act (or the Liquor Act 1989 or the Liquor Act 2003).43

  2. Micromanufacturing must take place in accordance with the conditions of the licence. Failure to comply with the conditions is an offence.44

E. Employers

  1. It is a criminal offence to supply liquor:
    • to a person as an inducement to secure his or her employment;45
    • to an employee instead of wages.46
  2. You may not deduct from an employee’s wages the cost of liquor supplied to him (or any other person on his behalf) and you commit an offence if you do.47

  3. Also, if you withhold payment of the wages of an employee, in lieu of a debt in respect of the sale or supply of liquor, it is an offence.48

  4. It is an offence to employ a minor in connection with the sale or supply of liquor, unless he is:
    • of or above the age of sixteen (16) years;
    • undergoing training in catering services; and
    • apprenticed to the licensee.49

F. Consumers

  1. It is an offence for anyone person to purchase for consumption off the licensed premises, more liquor in a single day than a quantity prescribed by the Minister.5051

  2. In fact, if you are not licensed or authorised to sell liquor, it is a criminal offence at any time to have in your possession or control more liquor than the prescribed quantity.5253

  3. It is an offence to be drunk and disorderly on any premises on which liquor is sold, or in any place to which the public has access.54

  4. It is an offence to purchase liquor from any person if you know (or have reasonable grounds to suspect that such person) is not licensed or permitted to sell liquor in terms of the Act.55

G. Minors

  1. It is a crime to sell, give or supply liquor to a person under the age of 18 years – that is, a minor.56

  2. It is also a crime to allow a minor in your care or supervision to consume liquor, except for the purpose of worship associated with the celebration of a religious observance.57

  3. The licensee or a manager of a licensed place commits a crime if he allows a minor:
    • to consume liquor on the licensed premises;58
    • to be in a part of licensed premises in which he may not be, whether in terms of the Act or a condition of the licence.59
  4. A minor commits an offence if he obtains or consumes liquor in contravention of the Act.60

  5. It is also an offence for a minor to mislead any person regarding his age in order to obtain or consume liquor, or to gain access to parts of licensed premises which such a person may not enter.61

  6. Except in the case of minors involved in apprenticed training, a licensee may not permit a minor to enter a restricted area.62 Doing so is an offence.63

  7. Premises may have areas which are restricted to non-minors only. It is an offence not to indicate every restricted area in the prescribed manner.64

H. Prohibited substances

  1. A person may not micromanufacture, sell, or supply any substance under the name of any liquor, if that substance is not liquor as defined in the Act.65

  2. It is also a criminal offence to micromanufacture, sell, or supply as liquor any impotable66 substance, or add an impotable substance to liquor, or sell or supply any liquor to which an impotable substance has been added.67

I. Liquor officers and inspectors

  1. An inspector may serve upon a licensee (or any person in control of licensed premises) a ‘compliance notice’ – calling upon such person to comply with the Act or the conditions of his licence. It is an offence if you fail to do so.68

  2. Any person who misrepresents himself as being a designated liquor officer, or inspector, commits an offence.69

  3. If you hinder a designated liquor officer, or inspector, in the execution of his duties, or you refuse or fail to obey a lawful instruction, you commit an offence.70

  4. If it happens that you are questioned by a liquor officer or inspector, you commit a crime if you knowingly give a false or misleading answer.71

  5. It is also an offence if you fail to comply with a reasonable request from a liquor officer or inspector,72 whether it is to produce records and documents,73 give an explanation,74 or merely render assistance.75

J. The Liquor Licensing and Appeal Tribunals

  1. With regard to any application, objection, questioning or representations in terms of the Act, if you lodge or provide information which you know to be false or misleading, or which you do not know to be true, you commit an offence.76

  2. The same applies if you lodge a forged document, or one which purports to be (but is not) a true copy of the original.77

  3. Whether you are giving evidence at a meeting or hearing of the Tribunal, or replying to any objection, or representations, or a complaint and the like, if you do so in a way which you know to be false or misleading, or which you do not know to be true, you commit an offence.78

  4. Once you have been duly notified to appear before the Tribunal, it is an offence to fail to do so either in person or represented by any other person, attorney or advocate.7980

  5. It is also an offence if you do appear, but without the leave of the presiding officer you absent yourself before the conclusion of the meeting or hearing.81

  6. The same goes for a date to which the meeting has been postponed and of which you have been notified by the presiding officer, if you fail to be present.82

  7. If, having been called upon by the presiding officer to give evidence, or to produce a document, at a meeting or hearing of the Tribunal, it is an offence if you refuse or fail to do so.83

  8. It is also a crime to refuse or fail to take the oath or to make an affirmation.84

  9. It is also an offence wilfully to disrupt the proceedings of the Liquor Licensing Tribunal,85 as it is to refuse to leave a meeting when ordered to do so by the presiding officer.86

  10. If the Liquor Licensing Tribunal makes an order in connection with the licence or licensed premises, it is an offence for the licensee to not comply with the order.87

K. Motor vehicles and service stations

  1. It is an offence to consume liquor in a motor vehicle88 whilst it is being driven, or is parked on a public road.89

  2. If you allow the consumption of liquor in a motor vehicle90 of which you are the driver, or which is under your control, while it is being driven on a public road you commit an offence.91

  3. In fact, if you just allow an open container with liquor in it to be in a motor vehicle,92 while it is being driven on a public road, you commit an offence.93

  4. No liquor may be sold, supplied, or consumed on the piece of land where a petrol station conducts business.94 It is an offence to do so.95

  1. Or because he is exempted – see section 84(1) and section 84(2) of the Act. 

  2. Section 32(1) read with section 32(3). 

  3. Section 32(2) read with section 32(3). 

  4. If the licence is for the consumption of liquor both on and off the licenced premises, then this does not apply to such premises. 

  5. Section 49(3). 

  6. Section 49(1) read with section 49(7). 

  7. As approved by the Liquor Licensing Tribunal. 

  8. Section 49(2) read with section 49(7). 

  9. That is, the presiding officer of the Liquor Licensing Tribunal. 

  10. Section 53(1)(b) read with section 53(4). 

  11. Section 51(1) read with section 51(9). 

  12. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for off-licences and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. for on-licences. 

  13. Section 59(8) read with section 59(1) and (3). 

  14. Section 60(1) read with section 60(4). 

  15. This does not apply if you are a licensee yourself, or the presiding officer has given written authorisation. 

  16. Section 60(2) read with section 60(4). 

  17. Oops. There go the bachelor parties … 

  18. Section 76(b). 

  19. Section 76(b). 

  20. Section 76(c). 

  21. Section 76(e). 

  22. Section 76(i). 

  23. Section 83(1). 

  24. This does not apply where: (a) the licensee neither connived at, permitted or allowed the act or omission; (b) the licensee took such steps as he or she was reasonably able to take in order to prevent the act or omission; and (c) the act or omission did not fall within the scope of the employment or authority of the manager, agent or employee. 

  25. Section 83(3). 

  26. Section 49(4) read with section 49(7). 

  27. Section 49(5) read with section 49(7). 

  28. Section 51(7) read with section 51(9). 

  29. Section 53(1)(a) read with section 53(4). 

  30. Section 53(1)(c) read with section 53(4). 

  31. Section 57(1) read with section 57(3). 

  32. Section 57(2) read with section 57(3). 

  33. Section 58(1) read with section 58(3). 

  34. Section 76(f). 

  35. Section 76(g). 

  36. Section 76(h). 

  37. Section 86(1) read with section 86(2). 

  38. Section 50(1)(a) read with section 50(3). 

  39. Section 50(1)(b) read with section 50(2). 

  40. Section 50(1)(c) read with section 50(2). 

  41. Section 50(3). 

  42. This means a person who produces liquor at or below the threshold volumes prescribed by the Minister. At present, these regulations are in Government Notice 980 of 17 August 2004, regulation 12 of which provides the volumes as: (a) for manufacturers of beer, 100 million litres per year; (b) for the manufacture of traditional African beer, 50 million litres per year; (c) for manufacture of wine, 4 million litres per year; and (d) for manufacture of spirits and/or any other liquor, 2 million litres per year. 

  43. Section 32(1) read with section 32(3). 

  44. Section 32(2) read with section 32(3). 

  45. Section 55(2)(a) read with section 55(3). 

  46. Section 55(2)(b) read with section 55(3). 

  47. Section 55(2)(c). 

  48. Section 55(2)(d) read with section 55(3). 

  49. Section 55(1) read with section 55(3). 

  50. This does not apply if the purchaser is a licensee himself, or the presiding officer has given written authorization. 

  51. Section 56(1) and (4) read with section 56(5). 

  52. Except if the presiding officer has given written authorisation. 

  53. Section 60(3) read with section 60(4). 

  54. Section 76(a). 

  55. Section 76(d). 

  56. Section 54(1) and (2) read with section 54(6). 

  57. Section 54(2) read with section 54(6). 

  58. Section 54(3) read with section 54(6). 

  59. Section 54(4) read with section 54(6). 

  60. Section 54(5) read with section 54(6). 

  61. Section 54(5) read with section 54(6). 

  62. This does not apply if he is accompanied by a parent or guardian or an adult with their consent – see Section 56(3). 

  63. Section 56(1) and (4) read with section 56(5). 

  64. Section 56(1) and (4) read with section 56(5). 

  65. Section 61(1) read with section 61(3). 

  66. This means ‘not safe or suitable for drinking’. 

  67. Section 61(2) read with section 61(3). 

  68. Section 69(11) read with section 69(1). 

  69. Section 79(a). 

  70. Section 79(b) and (c). 

  71. Section 79(d). 

  72. Section 79(e). 

  73. Section 74(1)(b). 

  74. Section 74(1)(c). 

  75. Section 74(2) 

  76. Section 77(a) and (c). 

  77. Section 77(a) and (c). 

  78. Section 77(b) and 78(f). 

  79. There is an additional offence, because if you are not able to appear, you must notify the presiding officer, in writing, five days before the date and give your reasons. See section 78(2) of the Act. 

  80. Section 78(1)(a). 

  81. Section 78(1)(b). 

  82. Section 78(1)(c). 

  83. Section 78(1)(d). 

  84. Section 78(1)(e). 

  85. Section 78(1)(g). 

  86. Section 78(1)(h). 

  87. Section 82(1). 

  88. This does not apply to a motor vehicle which is licensed for the sale and consumption of liquor. 

  89. Section 80(1)(a). 

  90. The same exception applies. 

  91. Section 80(1)(b). 

  92. The same exception applies. 

  93. Section 80(1)(c). 

  94. This does not apply to premises which are already licensed. Section 81(2). 

  95. Section 81(1) read with section 81(4).