Serving It RightServing It Right

BC’s Responsible Beverage Service Program

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Alcohol and the Law


The Law and Alcohol

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There is a large body of law regulating the sale and service of alcohol in licensed establishments and the duties owed by licensees and their employees to patrons and members of the public. It is the duty of licensees and servers to be aware of their rights and responsibilities and to conduct their business activities accordingly.

The Liquor Control and Licensing Act

British Columbia’s Liquor Control and Licensing Act is the most important legislation governing the sale and service of alcohol in licensed establishments. The Act, which is designed to maintain the orderly and responsible operation of licensed establishments, deals with:

  1. Requirements for obtaining a licence, permit, or authorization
  2. Application processes and the role of local government
  3. Operating terms and conditions such as training requirements, advertising requirements and marketing and promotional restrictions
  4. Inspections and enforcement of establishments and event sites

Most importantly, it requires licensees and servers to control the activities that take place in their establishments, including the responsible sale and service of alcohol.

The Liquor Control and Licensing Act is supported by the Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation. The general manager of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch administers the Act and the Regulation, both of which make it clear that those who serve alcohol in a licensed establishment have specific responsibilities.

Your responsibilities under the act

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Licensees must meet all applicable requirements of the Act and Regulation, as well as terms and conditions of their licence, which are periodically updated. It is the duty of all licensees to routinely familiarize themselves and their servers with the most recent modifications. Changes to the Act and Regulation, and terms and conditions of licences, are available on the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch website (see the Resources).

The summaries below identify the key rights and responsibilities under the Act and Regulation, as they relate to alcohol service. They also outline some tips that will help you responsibly control alcohol service in your establishment.

Licensees and managers should refer to the Act and the relevant liquor licensee handbooks for their full range of legal obligations.