On 13 February 2015 the Department of Trade and Industry introduced the National Liquor Norms and Standards in terms of the National Liquor Act.

This new set of regulations is intended to harmonise the national and provincial legislation. Previously, each province had its own unique legislation regulating the sale of liquor and micro-manufacturing of liquor within its borders.

This meant that the practices associated with the sale of liquor varied in each province.

It will be interesting to see whether these regulations have any permanent effect as they are likely to be challenged, with many provinces already having voiced their discontent with them.

The Western Cape’s MEC Alan Winde, next to his signature at the adoption clause, wrote “Noted, but we do have provincial legislation that is within our legislative competency. I also am not in favour of the extra red-tape burden on legitimate businesses”.

The MEC’s comments relate to the landmark decision of the Constitutional Court in Ex parte President of the Republic of South Africa: In re Constitutionality of the Liquor Bill, where it was decided that, on a constitutional level, the retail of liquor is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the provincial legislatures.

Nevertheless, for the time being, the Norms and Standards have brought in a number changes relating to the retail sale of liquor. These changes affect both on consumption and off consumption licence holders:

  1. On Consumption changes – Licensees must:

  • provide free drinking water (tap water is acceptable);

  • provide ablution facilities for both males and females and people with disabilities;

  • provide free issue condoms on the premises;

  • prohibit weapons and sharp objects on the premises.

  1. Off Consumption changes – Licensees must:

  • keep records of all sales made in excess of 25 litres of liquor;

  • (in the case of a liquor distributor) keep records of all sales made and must include the licence details of all purchasers in such records.

  1. Uniform Changes:

  • age verification: licensees must take steps to ensure that no liquor is sold to persons under the age of 18; it is an offence to do so. It is also an offence for the minor to present false evidence for age verification. Any refusal by a person to present identification on request shall result in the person being deemed a minor and therefore may not purchase liquor products. Further, it is an offence for an adult to supply liquor to a minor or to purchase liquor on their behalf (secondary supply).

  • prohibition of sale of liquor to intoxicated persons: the regulations make it an offence to sell liquor to intoxicated persons.

  • increased safety and evacuation requirements.

  • increased focus on limiting noise, nuisance and pollution associated with liquor premises.

  • uniform trading hours, nationwide.

  1. Licence Application Procedure:

  • new and renewal applications must be accompanied by a valid tax clearance certificate, (not older than 3 months);

  • applicants must also include a Police Clearance certificate.

It is not yet clear how the Norms and Standards will be enforced and if they will remain in place, unchallenged. However, for now, licensees would do well to take heed of the new regulations and to implement the necessary changes.