liquor in BC

Liquor Agents: A Refresher on Rights and Responsibilities

All licensees in British Columbia are responsible for knowing and complying with the rules set out in the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, the Regulation as well as the terms of their licence. This includes liquor agents.

There are three kinds of liquor agents in British Columbia:

  • liquor manufacturers representing themselves in marketing and promoting the manufacturer’s products off the manufacturer’s site;
  • agents hired by liquor manufacturers to represent the manufacturer inside British Columbia; and
  • agents who market and promote products imported from outside British Columbia

Though agents and their employees may not sell liquor products directly, they may solicit and receive orders for manufacturer’s products from licensed establishments and endorsed stores. Agents are also permitted to hire employees to market and promote products, conduct tastings, and take orders.

While a liquor agent may not necessarily have an “establishment” that can be inspected, liquor inspectors can nevertheless “inspect” a liquor agent by calling or visiting them to discuss the Act and ensure that the agent’s practices are in compliance with the Regulation and the applicable terms of license.

The Branch may also require production of a liquor agent’s account books and records to ensure that the agent’s accounting practices are in line with the Act.

Whether the agent is a manufacturer representing itself, or a person who represents a manufacturer who produces liquor outside of British Columbia, there are certain conditions that all agents must abide by, including:

  • they may not offer or give money, gifts, rewards or remuneration to licensees who carry their products;
  • they may not provide items, products or services to other licensees that are necessary to the operation of their business;
  • they may not pay any portion of a licensee’s advertising costs, or advertise a licensee’s entertainment line-up, drink specials, or menu items;
  • they may not provide or pay for entertainment in a licensed establishment;
  • they may sponsor adult-oriented events, activities and organizations – a sports tournament, for example, or a jazz festival – but must notify the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch if the event involves a licensed establishment;
  • they must keep all records of sales and purchases for at least three years, and make them available to branch inspectors and investigators on request; and
  • they may not deliver liquor to licensees unless authorized by the Liquor Distribution Branch

Even if you aren’t a liquor agent, if you work in the industry it is important that you are familiar with what a liquor agent can and cannot do so that you can ensure your business stays on the right side of the law.

*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.

Dan Coles
Retired bartender. Young lawyer. From the East, living in the West. Interested in British Columbia's producers and purveyors of wine, beer and spirits.

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