By Andrew Starke

Justice Clifton Hoeben has given the 66 licensed venues now subject to restrictions some cause for optimism by labeling Government’s approach ‘inflexible’ and questioning the application of the new rules.

The judge yesterday dismissed a Hemmes Trading application for Sydney hotspots Ivy and Establishment to be exempt from new regulations that will impact on operating hours and require the use of plastic drinkware.

The steps are aimed at reducing alcohol-related assaults and anti-social behaviour in pubs, bars and clubs around NSW.

Under the heading ‘A General Observation’ in his 26-page judgment of Hemmes Trading versus the State of NSW, Justice Hoeben said one could only applaud the intention of the Government to reduce incidents of alcohol related violence in the state.

“Nevertheless, there is a risk that if an inflexible approach is followed in the application of the new rules, unfairness in the moral (as distinct from legal) sense could result,” said the ruling.

The judge gave hope to venues (like both the Justin Hemmes-owned properties) where a number of bars and restaurants are covered by one liquor licence.

“It was not surprising during the conduct of this case that some laughter occurred when restrictions such as plastic glasses were raised in the context of expensive restaurants, such as exist in Ivy and Establishment,” said the Supreme Court judgment.

“The prospect of episodes of violence occurring in such restaurants is remote. The danger with such restrictions, which are valid and appropriate for bars, being applied to such restaurants is that it injects an element of capriciousness and arbitrariness into the operation of the regulation. This could well detract from the beneficial purpose of the regulation.”

Justice Hoeben said he hoped the ruling would make Government aware of such anomalies in the application of the regulation and use the power which it has to exempt some of the restaurants in these premises from requirements.

Contacted by TheShout, a spokesperson for Hemmes Trading and the Merivale Group declined the opportunity to comment.

To read the full judgment, click here.

The Shout Team

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

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