Jacques Scott appeals liquor license denial

Jacques Scott Group’s managing
director Peter Dutton stood with his attorneys in Grand Court last week to
appeal a transfer denial made by the Liquor Licensing Board five months ago.

In the end, Chief Justice Anthony
Smellie ordered an affidavit to be provided by Crown counsel within seven days
so that the matter can be resolved.

No court date has been assigned.

Jacques Scott Group Ltd. has proposed
building a $3 million retail area adjacent to Foster’s Supermarket on West Bay
Road. The store, which would sell fine wines, spirits and housewares, was
proposed as the anchor tenant for the shopping centre.

Jacques Scott’s application for a
liquor license transfer — from the Little Liquor Store on North Church Street
to the new West Bay location — was turned down by the board.

The board denied the liquor license
for the new West Bay location for three reasons, explained in a 25 April letter
from the Liquor Licensing Board’s Deputy Chairman Noel Williams.

The board stated it was “concerned
that the general public of the district of West Bay would not be served by the
additional traffic” and that the public would not benefit in any significant or
different way by virtue of a grant to a variation of the existing (Jacques
Scott) license.

The board said that it “must
consider public safety and public order issues” and “that a grant of a
variation of the license, which is the subject of the application, would have a
high propensity to additional public order concerns for the District of West
Bay.”

In Jacques Scott’s subsequent
appeal application, Mr. Dutton and his attorneys rebutted each of the grounds
of denial.

Maples and Calder, representing Mr.
Dutton, argued that “the board acted in breach of its statutory duties by
substituting the board’s views for those of the Central Planning Authority.”
They said that “no representation was made by the executive secretary of the
Central Planning Authority.”

Regarding the board’s claim of not
the benefitting the public, Maples and Calder argued that “there is no
mechanism whereby the board can consider their own expert evidence,” referring
to the letters from West Bay liquor store owners. They claimed that the board “acted
unreasonably, capriciously and, therefore, breached its statutory duty” in its
denial.

In reference to the board’s
concerns about public safety, Maples and Calder said that “the board did not
receive any objection from the commissioner of police,” and “the board failed
to take account of the unique nature of the proposed premises and have
unreasonably concluded that it is an environment for ‘additional public order
concerns.’”

 

Arguments in court

In court last Thursday, Mac Irmie,
the lead counsel for Mr. Dutton and Jacques Scott, sought to persuade Mr.
Smellie that no further evidence should be allowed from the Liquor Licensing
Board. He also argued that the court should give procedural direction to the
board to rule in favour of Jacques Scott’s license transfer.

The board’s counsel, Anne-Marie
Rambarran, submitted that the board should be able to gather the recommendation
of the police commissioner in accordance with the power given to the board. She
said there is a legal obligation to seek representation from the police
commissioner.

Mr. Irmie suggested that a
rehearing would give the board an opportunity to extend the process even longer
and possibly even re-hear the matter on new grounds, giving them an unfair
advantage.

“We’re at a critical point,” he
said of the proposed development.  “All
we’re seeking is the preliminary approval of the board. The premises will meet
all standards required.”

Mr. Irmie also argued that the new
Jacques Scott store in West Bay would be in a different class than other local
liquor stores.

“This is not a bottle shop,” Mr.
Irmie said.  “It’s an upmarket store
selling fine wines and luxury dining products.”

Ms Rambarran maintained that the
Liquor Licensing Board must be allowed to verify with the police commissioner
that there is, in fact, a public safety concern.

In response to a question from the
chief justice, Ms Rambarran said that there was a procedural irregularity —
the fact that the board had not received the police commissioner’s advice and
recommendations. Justice Smellie agreed, though he sympathized with Mr. Irmie’s
case stating that the procedural irregularity was obviously unfair to Jacques
Scott.

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