Board must reconsider liquor store decision

Chief Justice Anthony Smellie has ordered the Liquor
Licensing Board to reconsider the liquor licence transfer for Jacques Scott
Group’s West Bay location.

The board must make a decision on the license transfer
based solely on the evidence already gathered and submitted, as ordered by
Chief Justice Smellie on Thursday.

After nearly six months of waiting for a firm decision by
the court, Jacques Scott’s managing director Peter Dutton seemed content with
the chief justice’s direction to the board regarding evidence.

“I’m very grateful for the judge’s decision,” he said. “I
couldn’t have asked for more.”

Chief Justice Smellie said the ruling was either a matter
that was still at large or a special direction to the board from Mr. Smellie as
to how to proceed.

He chose the latter.

The board’s counsel, Anne-Marie Rambarran, returned to
the courtroom, while William Peake from Maples and Calder acted as lead counsel
for Mr. Dutton.

Mr. Peake argued that the board failed to provide
adequate evidence to turn down the liquor license transfer.

“The test under the law is clear,” said Mr. Peake. “The
test is service to the public.”

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 in West
Bay.

On Thursday, Chief Justice Smellie said that the absence
of an additional objection from the planning department was a major reason in
his ruling.

Justice Smellie also said that there was no proof that
the public would not benefit from an additional liquor store in West Bay.

He added that there would not necessarily be a higher
propensity of public order concerns if Jacques Scott built in the West Bay
area.

Justice Smellie said that it was not appropriate grounds
for the Liquor Licensing Board to refuse Jacques Scott’s application.

The board denied the original liquor license transfer for
the new West Bay location for three reasons, explained in an April letter from
the board’s deputy chairman, Noel Williams.

The board stated it was concerned that the general public
of West Bay would not be served by the additional traffic and that the public
would not benefit by 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 would have a
high propensity of additional public order concerns for West Bay.

Mr. Dutton and his attorneys rebutted each of the grounds
of denial in the September appeal hearing before Chief Justice Smellie.

A procedural irregularity — the failure by the board to
collect the police commissioner’s advice and recommendations — in the appeal
was spotted by the board’s counsel in the second hearing, and Chief Justice
Smellie agreed to allow extra time for the police commissioner’s affidavit to
be submitted.

No additional report from the police commissioner was
submitted by the board on Thursday.

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