Lawyers acting for Peanuts convenience store have written to the Liquor Board of Grand Cayman seeking clarification over a new notification from the board which suggests that the business was granted a liquor license to sell alcohol on Sundays.
The Department of Commerce and Investment, in its list of license holders for July, recently published on its website, indicates that the store, at Red Bay Gas station, has both a package license and a retail license, which would enable it to sell alcohol seven days a week.
The Department of Commerce and Investment publishes an official list of liquor license holders on its website every month, along with the type of licenses they hold and some brief details.
Peanuts was listed as having both licenses in the April, May and June lists.
Those lists were altered to remove the retail license after Liquor Board acting chairman Woody DaCosta said the permission to sell on Sunday had been announced in error and claimed the application had actually been rejected.
However, when the July list was published, Peanuts was inexplicably listed as holding both licenses.
Now, attorneys for the business are trying to determine if the new listing represents a change in position from the board or another administrative error. No one had responded to the letter by press time Tuesday. However, by Tuesday afternoon, the July list appeared to have been removed completely from the DCI website.
Mr. Rutty said he had been advised by his legal team that in the absence of any response to the contrary, the inclusion of Peanuts on the July list of license holders could be accepted as confirmation that he had permission to serve alcohol to customers on Sunday.
He said the situation was impacting his business.
“We have now had three different declarations on this from the board,” he said. “This level of confusion makes it very difficult for us and creates stocking and staffing issues that we have to manage.”
He said the latest list of license holders supported the original decision communicated to him from the board secretary that the Sunday license had been granted.
He added that DCI had also accepted his renewal application form and payment for the disputed retail license.
He said his lawyers had written to the board to ask that they issue the official “form 3,” confirming the terms and conditions of the license. The Liquor Licensing Law requires that the form be issued by the chairman once a decision is taken by the board.
Whether the board actually granted the license remains in dispute. Following its March meeting, then-board secretary Marva Scott issued a release to the media and to Peanuts saying the application had been granted.
However, when the official minutes to the March meeting were published in June, they indicated that the application had been rejected, and a new policy created restricting businesses to one type of liquor license per premises.
Liquor Board acting chairman Mr. DaCosta claimed, in a written response to questions from the Cayman Compass, that the original decision, indicating that the license had been granted, had been sent out in error. He attributed this to an “untimely and unauthorized release” by a member of Department of Commerce and Investment staff.
He claimed the decision had been postponed and later rejected following a separate meeting later in the quarter.
He later clarified that this was an “electronic meeting.” The minutes made no reference to any electronic meeting and indicated that the decision had been taken and the meeting concluded on March 28.
Commerce, Planning and Infrastructure Minister Joey Hew ordered an independent investigation to be carried out by the Internal Audit Services department. That investigation is being led by the service’s acting director, Andy Bonner.
Mr. Bonner said Thursday his team was making progress on examining documents and interviewing board members and civil servants.
He said he plans to have a report to the minister by mid-September.