Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012

There are a number of changes in the new Act that will affect the sale, supply and consumption of alcohol in New Zealand.

The Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA) replaces the Liquor Licensing Authority (LLA).

The Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA) replaces the Liquor Licensing Authority from 19 December 2012.

During the first 12 months ARLA will consider all contested licensing applications and managers certificates, while district licensing agencies will continue to consider all uncontested applications.

District Licensing Committee’s (DLCs) will replace District Licensing Agencies (DLAs).

Decisions about alcohol licences and managers’ certificates will be made by District Licensing Committees (DLCs). Every territorial authority has established one or more DLCs to fulfil the roles and functions under the Act.

Local Government New Zealand has published Competency Guidelines for District Licensing Committee Members to help territorial authorities understand the competencies needed by members of DLCs. The document provides guidance to territorial authorities on the competencies needed by members of DLCs. The guidance is high-level and is intended to: assist territorial authorities in the selection and appointment of DLC members thus allowing for a seamless and timely transition from DLAs to DLCs; assist all territorial authorities in establishing their DLCs, regardless of organisation size or the number of licensing applications anticipated; and enable territorial authorities to adapt the advice to fit local circumstances, and to tailor the DLC selection process accordingly. For more on this see:

Supply of alcohol to minors (persons under 18 years of age)

From the 19th December 2013 it is illegal to supply alcohol to someone under the age of 18 years unless:

  • The person supplying the alcohol is the parent or legal guardian and the alcohol is supplied in a responsible manner, or
  • The person supplying alcohol has the express consent of the young person’s parent or legal guardian and the alcohol is supplied in a responsible manner.
  • The young person is married, in a civil union or living with a defacto partner who is over 18 years of age.

What does ‘responsible’ supply mean?

To supply alcohol to under- 18’s responsibly under the law you should:

  • Supervise the consumption of alcohol 
  • Provide food
  • Provide a choice of low-alcohol and/or non-alcoholic drinks
  • Ensure safe transport options are in place.

Other things to consider when deciding if alcohol is supplied responsibly include:

  • The nature of the occasion
  • The time period over when the alcohol is supplied
  • The strength and the amount of alcohol supplied
  • The age of the minor

Remember though that Alcohol Healthwatch recommends that ideally:

For children and young people under 18 years of age, not drinking alcohol is the safest option

  • Parents and caregivers should be advised that children under 15 years of age are at the greatest risk of harm from drinking and for this age group, not drinking alcohol is especially important
  • For young people aged 15-17 years, the safest option is to delay them from drinking alcohol for as long as possible

NB. If drinking does occur it should be at a low-risk level (e.g. 1-2 standard servings) and in a safe environment, supervised by adults. Drinking to intoxication is particularly risky in this age group.(Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol, National Health and Medical Research Council)

What does express consent mean?

If you’re supplying alcohol to a minor (under 18 years of age) who is not your child, you will need to ensure that you have express consent from their parent or legal guardian before giving them alcohol. Express consent may include a personal conversation, an email or a text message that you have good reason to believe is genuine.

Who is a guardian?

A person is only considered a minor’s guardian if he or she is recognised as a guardian under the Care of Children Act 2004.

You could be fined up to $2,000 if you don't follow the law.

New national maximum trading hours for licensed premises.

The maximum trading hours are:

8.00am to 4.00am for on-licences (such as bars, pubs, taverns and nightclubs) and,

7.00am to 11.00pm for off-licences (such as bottle shops and supermarkets).

Premises that currently open for longer hours will have to comply with the maximum trading hours. Premises with shorter hours will continue to operate to the hours of their licence. The change means more than 300 on-licence venues across the country will have to change their opening hours (288 of these being in Auckland).

Irresponsible advertising and promotion becomes an offence

The new Act bans advertising and marketing that promotes excessive alcohol consumption or has special appeal to minors.

Except within licensed premises, businesses cannot:

  • Advertise free alcohol 
  • Promote discounts of 25% or more on alcohol products
  • Offer customers free goods, services or opportunities to win prizes if they purchase alcohol.

Supermarket alcohol displays are limited to one single non-prominent area of the store.

The purpose of this piece of the legislation is to limit (as far as is reasonably practicable) the exposure of shoppers in supermarkets and grocery stores to displays and promotions of alcohol, and advertisements for alcohol.

Supermarkets will only be allowed to display and promote alcohol in one non-prominent area of their stores.

A new licensing fees scheme has been introduced.

The new fee system, which comes into effect on 18 December 2013, more fairly reflects the cost of alcohol licensing.

It aims to ensure licensing costs are met by the alcohol industry, rather than ratepayers, who subsidised about 50 percent, or $5.4 million a year, of the licensing system under the previous Sale of Liquor Act 1989.

The new fee levels will help councils carry out new functions under the Act, such as a more thorough licence application process, and carry out better monitoring of licensees for compliance.

Also, under the previous Act, all licensees pay the same fees, regardless of the hours they trade, whether they have previously broken licensing laws, and despite the fact that some types of premises create more regulatory costs than others – such as the costs to local authorities to process applications, inspect licensees and take enforcement action.

Under the new system, there are five fee categories that reflect the different levels of licensing costs and risks in the alcohol industry. Low risk outlets with low licensing administration costs (such as winery cellar door sales and small clubs) will pay lower fees. Higher risk outlets that typically create higher costs (such as bottle stores, nightclubs and taverns) will pay more.

Overview of new system

Default licensing fees for on-, off-, and club licences

Default fees apply to on-, off- and club licences.

The default fees consist of:

an application fee, which licensees must pay when they apply for a new, renewed, or variation to a licence (this includes a redefinition of licensed premises), and

an annual fee, which must be paid by licensees each year.

The amount that businesses pay depends on the "cost/risk rating" of each premises.

Territorial authorities can change the default fees by making their own bylaws. However, they cannot change the way cost/risk ratings are calculated for each premises.

Determining a premises' cost/risk rating

Premises' cost/risk rating is determined by a combination of factors.

Table 1 shows how premises' cost/risk rating are determined. For example, a bottler store (scores 15) closing at 11:00 pm (scores 3) with two enforcements in the last 18 months (scores 20) would have an overall cost/risk rating of 38.

Licence type

Type of premises



Class 1 restaurant, night club, tavern, adult premises


Class 2 restaurant, hotel, function centre


Class 3 restaurant, other


BYO restaurant, theatres, cinemas, winery cellar doors



Supermarket, grocery store, bottle store


Hotel, tavern


Class 1, 2 or 3 club, remote sale premises, other


Winery cellar doors


Club licence

Class 1 club


Class 2 club


Class 3 club





Licence type

Latest trading hour allowed by licence


On-licence or club licence

2:00am or earlier


Between 2:01am and 3:00am


Any time after 3:00am


Off-licence (excl. remote sales premises)

10:00pm or earlier


Any time after 10:00pm


Remote sales premises

Not applicable





Licence type

Number of enforcement holdings in last 18 months


All licence types





2 or more


The definition of intoxication has been strengthened.

If you are intoxicated, staff of licensed businesses cannot serve you or allow you to remain on the premises. This is the same as the previous law.

However, the new Act clearly defines "intoxicated." This means you may be refused service, asked to leave or be removed if you are affected by alcohol or other drugs or substances and you are displaying two or more of the following conditions:

  • Affected appearance
  • Impaired behaviour
  • Impaired co-ordination, or
  • Impaired speech


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