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LLB handles liquor licence applications according to established procedures
The following is issued on behalf of the Liquor Licensing Board:

     In response to recent media reports that the Liquor Licensing Board (LLB) had given preferential treatment to its member when processing liquor licence applications, the LLB issued the following statement today (November 8):

     The LLB has been handling every liquor licence application in accordance with the established procedures, and adopting the same yardstick by taking relevant departments and stakeholders' views into full consideration before making decisions.

     According to Section 17(2) of the Dutiable Commodities (Liquor) Regulations (Regulations) (Cap 109B), the LLB will consider three criteria as laid down in the Regulations in considering each liquor licence application, including (a) whether the applicant is a fit and proper person to hold the licence; (b) whether the premises are suitable for selling liquor having regard to its location, structure, fire safety and hygienic conditions; and (c) whether in all the circumstances the grant of the licence is not contrary to the public interest. The LLB will also seek the views of relevant government departments, such as the Police, who will, based on their respective expertise and experience, review the case and provide impartial opinions to the LLB through the established mechanism. As regards the case of the restaurant in Sai Ying Pun mentioned in the media reports, taking the three above-mentioned criteria into consideration, the LLB decided to grant a one-year liquor licence to the restaurant with an additional licensing condition of keeping all doors and windows closed from 11pm to 9am the following day imposed, not a "clean licence" without conditions as mentioned in the media reports. Under the prevailing policy, if the LLB approves a liquor licence application, the liquor licence will only be issued to the applicant after the subject premises has obtained a valid restaurant licence.

     In addition, three points mentioned in the media reports are not factually correct or may be misleading, which are clarified as follows. The restaurant concerned in Sai Ying Pun mentioned in the media reports did not have any record of being prosecuted for selling liquor without a licence according to Police information. The LLB has strictly followed the established procedures in handling the application of the concerned restaurant. Since the Police did not raise any objection to the applications by the restaurant concerned and the objectors did not express willingness to attend an open hearing, the LLB, thus, in accordance with the established procedures, considered the application at a closed-door meeting. The LLB member mentioned in the media reports, Mr Lo, was not present at the meeting and had not participated in the related discussion.

     Moreover, the dinner gathering mentioned in the media reports was arranged by the LLB members themselves, and the members attended the gathering at their own expense and the bill was shared among them.

     For the other restaurant next to the above restaurant mentioned in the media report, an additional licensing condition of keeping all doors and windows closed from 11pm to 9am the following day was also imposed on its liquor licence.

     The LLB has currently adopted a two-tier reporting system in making a declaration of interest, including (a) the chairman and members shall register in writing their personal interests on their first appointment to the LLB, and annually thereafter, to the secretary of the LLB, with related information being uploaded to the register of interests at the LLB website; and (b) the chairman and members should declare their interests or withdraw from the meeting if necessary prior to the discussion of any applications which may involve conflict of interest.

     As to whether the meeting minutes should be made open, since the minutes and the audiotape records are internal confidential documents of the LLB, the Code on Access to Information is not applicable. After taking legal advice, the LLB will not disclose the concerned documents and audiotape records.
Ends/Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:30
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