State Supreme Court Justice Natalie Adams has ruled that the NSW Justice Department does not have the legal authority to declare Sydney CBD venues subject to the lockout laws introduced in 2014 under former premier Barry O’Farrell.
The legal challenge was brought by the licensee of the Coronation Hotel, in response to the government’s decision to revoke the lockout exemption status of the Smoking Panda Bar, which is located within the hotel. When the laws were introduced in 2014, the bar was deemed a “tourism accommodation establishment bar area” and therefore allowed to trade outside lockout and cease service regulations.
However, Liquor and Gaming NSW officials reversed the exemption after an investigation found guests who weren't staying at the hotel were admitted to the venue after the 1.30am lockout and served alcohol beyond 3am. The court ruled that the department's decision to cancel the Smoking Panda Bar's exemption was invalid.
Adams found clauses in the legislation “are not a proper exercise of the regulation-making power conferred upon the Governor” and Liquor and Gaming NSW had not adequately defined the “tourism accommodation establishment area" exemption.
The ruling means strip clubs and live music venues could be exempt from lockout laws, although the NSW Government has launched an appeal.
In a statement provided by Liquor and Gaming NSW, a spokesperson said “The decision was based on a technical legal argument in relation to power of the secretary of the NSW Department of Justice to declare a venue to be subject to the lockout and 3am cease service laws.
"Up to 15 venues are potentially affected by the decision. Only eight are permitted to trade after 3am.
“As the government has launched an appeal against the court decisions, the names of relevant venues will not be publicly released.”
The decision has also been referred to the Callinan Review, which is due to be released by the end of August.