Archive Monthly Archives: April 2022

Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch Enforcement Decisions now on CanLii

Big news for British Columbia’s hospitality industry: enforcement decisions of the general manager’s delegates from 2022 onwards are now available on CanLii!

Some time ago I participated in a short survey commissioned by the Branch canvassing views on how useful (searchable) the existing enforcement decision database is, and the merits of the Branch uploading its decisions to CanLii. I strongly supported this initiative. I came across this happy development earlier this week while perusing the compliance and enforcement section of the Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch website (as one does) and I confess I was surprised it was launched with so little fanfare.

Why this matters

Previously the only way to access enforcement decisions was through the search function on the Branch website. For the time being this remains the case for all pre-2022 decisions. I have never figured out how to work this feature effectively, but suffice to say its functionality is limited. The search results invariably yield a mishmash of waiver summaries and .pdfs of hearing decisions from various time periods.

Further, and for reasons that no one has ever been able to explain to me, enforcement decision .pdfs do not contain numbered paragraphs. This makes citing the decisions a frustrating task.

The Branch’s new CanLii initiative will cure these and other grumbles.

For the uninitiated, CanLii, or more properly the Canadian Legal Information Institute, was founded and is paid for by lawyers and notaries who are members of Canada’s provincial and territorial law societies. It is a free and very user friendly database of Canadian court decisions from all levels as well as legislation and an increasing number of administration tribunals – such as the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.

Branch decisions posted on CanLii will now be:

  • Highly searchable
  • Contain hyperlinks to both legislation and other decisions (of the tribunal and the court)
  • Indicate “treatment” (if the decision has been referred to in other tribunal decisions ,or by the court)
  • Contain numbered paragraphs
  • Eligible for “CanLii Connects” – summaries or commentary from the legal community available

Alcohol & Advocacy appreciates that enforcement hearing decisions have a relatively small audience. Nevertheless, the Branch’s decision to make enforcement decisions more accessible, more searchable, and generally easier to navigate will go some distance to improving the public’s understanding of its work, the quality of the submissions licensees are able to make before the tribunal, and ultimately the soundness of the general manager’s delegates decision making.

It is also worth mentioning that the Branch appears to be organizing and publishing waiver summaries in a new and more accessible format. This .pdf, which I anticipate will be updated from time-to-time, provides an easy to read summary of the licensees/establishments that have recently signed waivers with the contravention(s) and related penalty also set out. While there is absolutely a naming-and-shaming element to this document, which not all licensees will appreciate, the public has an interest in seeing the work product of liquor inspectors and the Branch set out in an accessible format.

The silver lining for savvy licensees is that the waiver summary provides a useful snapshot of the Branch’s enforcement priorities (by geography, licensee type, contravention type etc.) and the corresponding penalty.

If your establishment has been served with a contravention notice, or notice of enforcement action, or you have questions or concerns about liquor inspectors or the Branch generally, contact Dan Coles at Owen Bird.

*Alcohol & Advocacy publishes articles for information purposes only. They are not a substitute for legal advice, and persons requiring such advice should consult legal counsel.