By James Atkinson

A Victorian court has granted a controversial Melbourne bottleshop the right to continue trading 24 hours.

Kordister Pty Ltd holds a licence to sell packaged liquor from the Exford Hotel bottle shop on a 24-hour basis – the only such licence in the Melbourne CBD.

In 2009, licensing authorities restricted the bottleshop's trading hours so it could not operate between 11pm and 7am. Police argued that the area surrounding the Russell Street outlet was prone to late night alcohol-related violence and anti-social behaviour.

Kordister successfully appealed this decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) in 2010 on the basis that ending late-night trading at the bottleshop would damage the profitability and viability of the hotel.

But the Supreme Court of Victoria subsequently ordered VCAT to review its decision, with liquor authorities successfully arguing the tribunal had not given enough weight to the general impact of late night trading on the area – a ruling that was again challenged by Kordister, this time to the Supreme Court of Victoria – Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal on Wednesday granted Kordister a permanent stay allowing it to continue 24-hour trading.

The appeal bench of Chief Justice Marilyn Warren and Justices Pamela Tate and Robert Osborn ruled that while harm minimisation was a primary purpose of the Liquor Control Reform Act, it was up to liquor authorities to establish a direct link between the alcohol-related problems in the area and the Exford Hotel outlet's extended trading hours.

But they said licensing authorities were free to bring a fresh application to restrict the shop's trading hours.

If they chose to do so, the evidence they relied upon could include "locality evidence about the currently prevailing local, social, demographic, and geographic circumstances of the bottleshop, as well as any evidence of particular incidents of anti-social behaviour for which the bottleshop was directly responsible", the appeal bench said. 

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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