Complaints related to licensed premises

Guidance for making a complaint.

Section 117 of the Liquor Control Act 1988 (the Act) provides for a complaint to be lodged against a licensee if the noise coming from, or the behaviour of patrons at, a licensed premises is affecting the people residing in or attending premises such as a school or hospital in the neighborhood.

Who may lodge a complaint

A complaint may be made by:

  • the Commissioner of Police;
  • a government agency or statutory authority;
  • the local council of the district in which the premises are situated, or any adjacent council; or
  • a person claiming to be adversely affected by the issues outlined in the complaint who:
    • resides, works or worships;
    • attends, or is a parent of a child who attends,a school;or
    • attends, or is a patient in, a hospital,
    in the vicinity of the licensed premises concerned.

In respect to the above, where a person lodges a complaint, the complaint must be signed by 3 unrelated adults (including the complainant).

Notwithstanding the fact that a complaint must be made by three (3) or more unrelated adult persons, the licensing authority may continue to determine the complaint even if one or more of the complainants subsequently withdraws their complaint.

The Act defines '3 unrelated adults' as: 3 adults each of whom:

  • resides at different residential premises; and
  • is not:
    • child; or
    • a parent; or
    • a brother or sister; or
    • an aunt or uncle; or
    • a spouse or former spouse; or
    • a de facto partner or former de facto partner, of either of the other 2 adults.

Grounds of complaint (Section 117)

A written complaint may be lodged with the Director alleging:

  • that the amenity, quiet or good order of the neighbourhood of the licensed premises is frequently unduly disturbed by reason of any activity occurring at the licensed premises; or
  • that any:
    • behaviour of persons on the licensed premises;
    • noise emanating from the licensed premises; or
    • disorderly conduct occurring frequently in the vicinity of the licensed premises on the part of persons who have resorted to the licensed premises,
    is unduly offensive, annoying disturbing or inconvenient to persons who reside or work in the vicinity, or to persons in or making their way to or from a place of public worship, hospital or school.

Determination of complaints

Once a complaint has been lodged with the licensing authority, in the first instance, an attempt will be made to resolve the issues of the complaint in respect to noise and behaviour with the licensee and the complainant through conciliation or negotiation. However, if the complaint cannot be resolved through conciliation or negotiation, the Director may determine the matter.

If during a conciliation conference the parties reach agreement on the outcome of a complaint and the licensing authority is satisfied that a decision in the agreed terms is lawful, the licensing authority should have regard to the terms reached and may make a decision varying the conditions of licence in a manner that is consistent with those terms.

Similarly, where conciliation or negotiation of the complaint can not be reached, the licensing authority may, by notice in writing, require the licensee to show cause why an order should not be made in relation to the complaint. Alternatively, the licensing authority may call a hearing which both the licensee and the complainant(s) will attend. Each party will be given the opportunity to outline their case and the Director will consider the merits of the information provided.

When determining a complaint, the Director may have regard to:

  • any alteration, including any structural change, made:
    • to the licensed premises; or
    • to any relevant premises where the complainant (or the complainant’s child) resides, works, worships, attends or is a patient;
  • any changes that have taken place over time to the activities occurring on the licensed premises; and
  • the kind of business conducted under the licence and how that business is managed; and
  • whether the complainant or complainant’s child began to reside, work, worship, attend or be a patient at any relevant premises before or after the licensee began to conduct business at the licensed premises; and
  • any provision of the Environmental Protection Act 1986, or of any regulations made under the Act, that is relevant to the subject matter of the complaint.

Parties may have legal representation, however it is not a requirement and no costs can be awarded against the parties.

Whether pursuant to conciliation or negotiation or by way of an order, the Director may:

  • vary the existing conditions of the licence;
  • redefine, or redesignate a part of, the licensed premises;
  • prohibit the licensee from providing entertainment or any other activity of a kind specified by the Director during a period specified by the Director or otherwise than in circumstances specified by the Director, and impose that prohibition as a condition to which the licence is to be subject; or
  • otherwise deal with the matter in such a manner as is likely, in the opinion of the Director, to resolve the subject matter of the complaint.

Review of decision by the Liquor Commission

Any party to the complaint proceedings may apply to the Liquor Commission for a review of the Director’s decision if they are dissatisfied with the determination.

An application for the review of a decision must be lodged with the Commission within a month after the parties receive notice of the decision.

Any order made by the Director remains in force until quashed by the Commission, or revoked by the Director.

General complaints

Where a person considers that a licensee has contravened this Act, the Regulations, the licence or permit, or a condition of the licence or permit, the person may lodge a complaint in writing with the licensing authority.

The complainant in this case will not, however, be deemed to be a party to proceedings for the purposes of any disciplinary action that may be taken against the licensee, following an investigation by the licensing authority.

Lodging a complaint

A complaint may be made in writing, however, before lodging the complaint with the Director, the complainant must first serve a copy of the complaint on the licensee and allow sufficient time for the licensee to rectify the cause of the complaint. If the licensee does not rectify the cause of the complaint within a reasonable time frame, the complaint may be pursued with the Director of Liquor Licensing.

There is no fee payable for the lodgement of a complaint.

Downloads

Submitting your application

Ensure all required documentation is attached to your application.

In person

Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

Level 2, Gordon Stephenson House, 140 William Street Perth WA 6000

By email

Ensure all documentation is attached to your email.

rgl@dlgsc.wa.gov.au

By post

Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries

PO Box 8349
Perth Business Centre
WA 6849

Disclaimer

This information is designed to provide authoritative information regarding the subject matter covered, and with the understanding that the Director is not passing legal opinion or interpretation or other professional advice. The information is provided on the understanding that all persons undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its contents.

Page reviewed 29 July 2019