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Andrew D. Gay

On April 11, 2012, the British Columbia Government moved to modernize liquor laws in BC by allowing movie theatres to apply for liquor licences.  In addition, licensed multi-purpose venues, sometimes known as “live event theatres”, have been given greater flexibility to use their facilities as movie theatres without running afoul of a previous rule which prohibited licensed establishments from showing anything more than “occasional” films.

Changes to the rules were first attempted by the Province in February, 2012, when the government sought to provide greater flexibility to live event theatres to show films.  However, the changes to the law at that time were ill-conceived such that live event theatres could only show films outside their hours of liquor service, meaning they could not show films in the evening even if they did not serve liquor.  Negative reaction to that kind of continuing red tape was swift, leading to the further changes on April 11.

The recent changes were effected through an amendment to section 8 of the Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation which previously provided that an establishment operating as a movie theatre would be operating in a manner inconsistent with the “primary purpose” of the liquor licence.

The changes have been warmly received by industry, particularly by those who have struggled to keep small local theatres operating, as it is anticipated that sustainable revenues are now achievable.  The large multiplex theatres which lobbied for the changes were predictably pleased as well.

Andrew Gay is a partner at the Vancouver litigation firm Gudmundseth Mickelson LLP.  In addition to his work as a commercial litigator, Andrew is an expert in liquor law and routinely represents clients in disputes with the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch.  You can find Andrew at http://www.lawgm.com.

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