Expert regulatory advice and representation

Liquor Licensing

BTZ has assisted countless bars and restaurants around the province with issues relating to liquor licensing. Establishments may face issues relating to their liquor licence in two separate yet related contexts: enforcement by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) as well as provincial enforcement under various provincial regulations of the Liquor Licence Act. The firm is able to assist establishments with issues faced in either context.

Licencing Process and Regulatory Compliance

In the AGCO context, we are able to assist individuals and establishments with the initial stages of Applications for Liquor Licences, Renewal of Licences, Temporary Extensions, Extensions of Hours Applications and Increases in Capacity. We have a wealth of experience in dealing with all of the up-front paperwork involved in opening and growing your licenced establishment. In fact, several of the firm's partners are themselves owners of licensed establishments in Toronto, so they intimately understand the issues that are faced by licencees.

We are also able to assist management with maintaining regulatory compliance. We frequently advise licenced establishments about their obligations under the Liquor Licence Act. The regulations under the Act can be complex and are subject to change with little notice by the provincial government. We help licencees keep on top of the latest developments so that they can avoid having to deal with enforcement action.

Enforcement: Fines, Suspension, and Revocation of Licence

When it comes to enforcement, we will vigorously defend any disciplinary action that is taken against an establishment should the need ever arise.

The Enforcement Process

When the AGCO takes action against a bar or restaurant, the matter is adjudicated by the Licence Appeal Tribunal of Ontario. This process involves various steps along the way, beginning with the initial Notice of Proposal from the AGCO to the licence holder.

The Proposal can take many forms, including: suspension of a licence; revocation of a licence; and conditions on the licence. Upon receiving a Notice of Proposal, the licence holder has a right to a hearing to dispute the Notice. In order to have a hearing, the licence holder must request one within 15 days of receiving the Notice. From there, various procedural steps are taken leading up to an actual hearing if a negotiated settlement is not agreed to. All of these steps would be completed by our lawyers.

As indicated above, when an establishment faces a Notice of Proposal from the AGCO, it is common to be simultaneously charged with an offence under the Liquor Licence Act that arises out of the same set of underlying circumstances. This is a process that goes through the Ontario Court of Justice. Upon being served with a summons to appear in court, the establishment is required to either attend court themselves or send an agent on their behalf. Our firm would attend the court appearances on your behalf, receive and review all of the disclosure that the province intends to use against the establishment, and would vigorously defend an establishment at trial should the matter reach that point.

Ideally, the matter would not reach the trial stage. One of the firm's specialties is negotiating favourable settlements for our clients in liquor licence matters, and saving our clients time and money by doing so.

Retaining Us

No matter the issue in the area of liquor licencing, our lawyers have a proven track record in successfully defending and assisting licence holders. To find out how we can help you, call us today.