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Liquor Production Licenses - What to watch out for ...
First published on Distillique's website 2015 GM Bosman
For some time now the whole South African Liquor License Industry has been chaotic.
If it’s not a question of waiting for inspectors (up to 7 months), then you have to deal with inspectors that don’t know what they are doing, or people blatantly holding you for ransom for bribes, or inspectors that have no transport because the fuel budget has been exhausted, or – as has happened now for the second time – an entire Liquor Board being fired and needing to be replaced.
If this is not enough to cause stress for a business man or entrepreneur, now it seems that we need to watch out for the people that are supposed to help us with this – Liquor License Agents and Lawyers – too.
We have all heard the stories of disreputable License Agents that will charge you R10 000 and guarantee you will have your license. Couple of months later (normally after you track them down and ask them) they tell you “No, your application was declined.” “Why?” “No, they didn’t say.” Meanwhile they never even submitted your application, just pocketed the money.
The solution therefore is simple – spend a bit more and use a reputable company and lawyer.
Now a new threat emerges – that of reputable lawyers (not specialised in Liquor Law) that either through lack of knowledge or greed, are charging their clients ENORMOUS amounts for Environmental Impact Studies, Social Impact Assessments, etc. etc. and suddenly something that should cost you around R25 000, becomes hundreds of thousands of Rands (yes, one of our customers can testify to an account of more than R200 000.00!)
Make sure that you use a reputable AND knowledgeable representative, and do NOT take everything you are told at face-value. Sometimes instead of a 100 page document or report that cost you 3 weeks and R90 000, all that was needed were 3 sentences you could have written yourself. (i.e. the stillage management plan does not require an environmental impact assessment – just add a sentence or two that you have an arrangement with a piggery to collect your stillage)
Regular culprits in this sense would be Waste Management, Social Responsibility, Water Management, etc.
So speak to other craft distillers (especially ones that have recently gone through this process. Speak to the inspectors (those that know what they are doing), and speak to us here at Distillique.
Although we are not lawyers ourselves, we can certainly put you in touch with the right people, and we know when there is a rat in the woodwork.
So be legal … And keep on Distilling !!!