By James Atkinson
The NSW Government's new 'Three Strikes' scheme will cause unexpected headaches for licensees who simply pay 'ticket' infringements for Liquor Act breaches, warns liquor licensing lawyer Tony Hatzis.
Under the new law, which became effective on January 1 this year, licensees who pay penalty infringement notices for certain offences (including permitting intoxication and sell liquor to minors) will automatically incur a first 'strike' against their venues.
Hatzis, of Hatzis Cusack Lawyers, said a 'strike' could potentially lead to restrictive conditions being imposed on the liquor licence, and may also trigger default covenants in a mortgage or lease of the venue.
"Proposed purchasers of the business or freehold may be put off, if the licence is affected by a strike," he said.
Hatzis said licensees should carefully consider whether paying the ticket will give rise to a strike.
"If so, they should seek advice about whether they can defend the charge. Even if the charge cannot be defended, they may still evade a strike if they can persuade a Court not to record a conviction," he said.
Hatzis said that there is still hope for those who have already paid a ticket, but now want to challenge it.
"The fines legislation offers a defendant a limited time after paying the fine to still elect to take the matter to Court," he said.