British Columbia’s Court of Appeal ended 2017 with a stinging rebuke of the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch’s October, 2016 decision to cancel the liquor licences of Dell Lanes, a family-operated bowling alley in Surrey, B.C. Madam Justice Newbury, after being left with a “sense of unease” concerning the decision-making process followed by the Branch ordered that the bowling alley’s licences be renewed, albeit with some additional conditions.
On April 13, 2016 the British Columbia Court of Appeal released its reasons in The Cambie Malone’s Corporation v. British Columbia (Liquor Control and Licensing Branch).
British Columbia’s liquor licensing regime is administered by the general manager – an individual appointed under the Public Service Act by the cabinet minister responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch, which is currently part of the Ministry of Small Business portfolio. The general manager, and the staff he or she delegates powers and responsibilities to, have significant impact on the way liquor laws are developed and applied in British Columbia.
Alcohol & Advocacy has previously considered what it means to be a fit and proper person for the purpose of holding a liquor licence in British Columbia: the criteria are broad and the discretion is great. Many of the criteria relate to an assessment of what the licence applicant has actually done, such as having a criminal record or committing violations of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act. But what about the less objective criteria – such as being “of good reputation and character” or being “associated” with people involved in criminal activities? How do regulators interpret those requirements?
Alcohol & Advocacy routinely provides readers with an “insiders” look at how the liquor laws in British Columbia are written, interpreted, and applied. At A&A we often write about the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch making “decisions” and issuing licences as well as fines – this is what lawyers call “administrative law”. But what is admin law?
On April 23, 2015 the Supreme Court of British Columbia released its reasons in The Cambie Malone’s Corporation v. British Columbia (Liquor Control and Licensing Branch).