17 March 2009

Your friendly, helpful judiciary

'An Invercargill judge who suspended the general manager's liquor certificate of a Winton store employee caught drink-driving also advised him how his employer could get around the suspension.

The answer: pull a sickie.

Liquor Licensing Authority Judge Bill Unwin later acknowledged his courtroom advice might have been inappropriate.

Judge Unwin yesterday suspended the general manager's liquor certificate of CRT Winton employee Murray McGrannachan for four weeks, starting on May 18. McGrannachan had earlier been convicted of drink-driving and the police had asked the authority to rule that he was an unsuitable person to hold the certificate.

The court heard that McGrannachan was the only person employed at the CRT store with a general manager's liquor certificate, which meant the store would be unable to sell liquor during his suspension.

Judge Unwin told McGrannachan he understood a store that sold liquor could hire a temporary manager to replace a sick or absent manager. However, it was unable to hire a temporary manager for one who had been suspended. The only way a company could get around it was to employ a permanent manager for one day and if that person "develops a sudden illness" he could then be replaced.

"It's subtle but perfectly legal," the judge said.

When asked after the hearing whether he thought his advice to McGrannachan was appropriate, the judge acknowledged it probably was not.

"I am not in a position to give advice to anyone and probably shouldn't have, but people don't know what to do," he said. "You are probably right. It was probably inappropriate."

He said if people were from out of town he always tried to help them because there were no licensing consultants in the area who gave such advice'

- Southland Times, 17 March 2009

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