Restructuring Opportunity For Licensing Trusts

  • Doug Graham

The Minister of Justice, Rt Hon D.A.M. Graham, has announced that legislation will be introduced to allow licensing trusts to be reconstituted as community trusts, no longer restricting them to the sale and supply of alcohol. This has become necessary because some licensing trusts no longer are directly involved in the sale of liquor.

The government has already advised all trusts of the planned changes.

The law change will also mean that existing monopoly rights in trust areas will come to an end but trusts will also be free to operate outside their trust boundaries. This also eliminates the current requirement that licensing trusts hold a competition poll.

Mr Graham said the Liquor Review Advisory Committee found no reason to compel licensing trusts to restrict their investments to the liquor industry and, in fact, found that some trusts currently operate outside their statutory powers. Therefore, it recommended that the statutory objectives of the trusts be expanded and that they become community trusts, along the lines of the trustee banks.

However, the government has decided to leave it up to trustees to choose whether or not they wish to reconstitute as a community trust, without any involvement in the sale of liquor, subject to electors having the right to petition for a poll if sufficient object. They may remain as licensing trusts if they wish.

All community trusts would be required to hold an annual meeting and remuneration to trustees and senior executives would be public information

Any licensing trust which elects to change would transfer its assets and liabilities to the new community trust. Any new trust would be obliged to continue to distribute its profits inside the original licensing trust boundaries.

Mr Graham said a Licensing Trusts Restructuring Bill would be introduced early next year.