The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch Enforcement Process
The role of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) enforcement program for liquor and non-medical cannabis licensees is to ensure that you comply with the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, the Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation, and the terms and conditions of your licence, authorization, or permit. While the goal of the branch is to minimize contraventions through education and voluntary compliance, enforcement action may be necessary when there is a serious contravention or repeated contraventions of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, its Regulation and/or with the terms and conditions of a licence.
It is important for the branch to take action against non-compliance to minimize public safety risks and protect community standards. A delay in dealing with non-compliance or not responding may endanger the public or compromise community standards. As well, it may encourage further incidences of non-compliance. These rules are designed to explain the enforcement hearing process and ensure we take a consistent approach. The rules are branch policy, and the hearing delegate may exercise discretion when imposing them in order to ensure administrative fairness.
The Authority of the General Manager
Section 51 of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act authorizes the general manager of the branch, with or without a hearing, to take action against you for alleged contraventions of the Act, its Regulation and/or the terms and conditions of the licence.
Roles and Responsibilities
Hearing Delegate for the Enforcement Hearing
The general manager has given authority to hearing delegates to adjudicate enforcement hearings. The hearing delegate conducting a hearing will consider the evidence and argument of the branch and the licensee, decide whether the alleged contravention(s) occurred and what enforcement action, if any, to impose.
The registrar ensures that issues related to enforcement hearings are consistently addressed, and that licensees have ready access to information about the process, laws and policies. The registrar conducts pre-hearing conferences, schedules hearings and makes decisions on procedural matters that are raised before the hearing.
The branch advocate represents the branch at pre-hearing conferences and enforcement hearings. During the hearing, the branch advocate presents the branch’s evidence and makes submissions. The branch may also be represented by legal counsel, who may present legal arguments.
Liquor inspectors attend enforcement hearings as witnesses for the branch. They testify about the alleged contravention(s), the reasons for pursuing a particular enforcement action, and any prior compliance activity related to the license or the licensee.
The Enforcement Process
Notice of Enforcement Action
If the general manager recommends enforcement action for an alleged contravention(s) of the Liquor Control and Licensing Act, the Regulation and/or the terms and conditions of the licence, authorization, or permit, you will receive a Notice of Enforcement Action. The Notice of Enforcement Action will include information on the alleged contravention(s), the proposed enforcement action (i.e. proposed penalty), and the facts on which the alleged contravention(s) and proposed enforcement action are based.
When you receive a Notice of Enforcement Action, you may sign a waiver notice. Signing a waiver notice means that you:
- agree that you committed the contravention
- accept the enforcement action proposed in the Notice of Enforcement Action
- waive the opportunity for an enforcement hearing on the matter, and
- agree that this will form part of your compliance history
If a Notice of Enforcement Action contains more than one alleged contravention, you may sign a waiver for one of the contraventions and dispute the others at a hearing.
The registrar may conduct a pre-hearing conference with you and the branch advocate in order to:
- determine whether your response to the allegations necessitates holding an enforcement hearing
- clarify and narrow the issues that will be dealt with at the enforcement hearing
- identify and discuss the evidence (including witnesses) that will be presented at the enforcement hearing
- set out the requirements for pre-hearing disclosure of evidence
- schedule the enforcement hearing,
- set procedures to ensure a timely, fair and efficient hearing, and
- provide information to you regarding the enforcement hearing process
If you do not participate in the pre-hearing conference, you may lose the opportunity for an oral hearing and the general manager will base a decision on the written material only.
Hearings can be conducted by way of an oral hearing, teleconference call, written submissions, or any combination of these. The registrar will determine the location of the hearing and the manner in which it will be conducted. Penalty-only hearings will generally occur by way of written submissions. At the enforcement hearing, you may assert that the alleged contravention(s) did not occur, and/or the proposed enforcement action is not warranted. The hearing delegate will consider both your and the branch’s evidence and argument and issue a written decision.
In general, the format for an oral or teleconference hearing will be as follows:
- The hearing delegate will make introductory comments, and yourself and the branch advocate will introduce themselves
- The hearing delegate will deal with any preliminary matters
- The branch advocate will present the branch’s evidence of the contravention which may include documents, witnesses and an explanation of the branch’s reasons for the proposed enforcement action
- You or your representative may question the branch’s witnesses
- You may present evidence, including documents and witnesses
- The branch advocate may question your witnesses
- The branch advocate will summarize the branch’s case and make final submissions on the alleged contravention(s) and the proposed penalty
- You may provide a summary of the evidence and make submissions on the alleged contravention(s) and the proposed penalty
- The hearing delegate may ask questions of the participants at any time during the hearing
The Penalty Schedule
If the hearing delegate finds that a contravention occurred and that a penalty is warranted, he or she may do one or more of the following:
- add terms and conditions to a licence or rescind or amend existing terms and conditions
- require you to pay a monetary penalty in accordance with the penalty schedule
- suspend a licence in accordance with the penalty schedule
- cancel all or part of a licence
- order you to transfer your licence, within a certain period, to a person who is at arm’s length from you
If the hearing delegate finds that the contravention(s) occurred and that a suspension and/or a monetary penalty is warranted, he or she must follow the minimums set out in Schedule 2 of the Regulation. The hearing delegate is not required to impose the penalty proposed in the Notice of Enforcement Action, and may impose higher penalties than those in the penalty schedule when it is in the public interest to do so.
The Enforcement Order
The hearing delegate will issue a decision after the hearing has concluded. Once you have received the enforcement order, the branch will post the complete text of the decision on their web site. Names of individuals and personal identifiers (where you work, etc.) are removed to protect your privacy and comply with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
If you are dissatisfied with an enforcement order, you may apply within 30 days for a reconsideration. Please see the page on Reconsideration Process for more information.