Night license

From Hotels of Ballarat

A night license was a special license allowing a hotel to trade outside normal licensing hours. This was an additional license and had to be applied for separately. The purpose of the extended hours was to allow guests staying in a hotel to be allowed to drink after normal hotel business had ceased for the day.

History[edit | edit source]

In July 1858 there was considerable interest in the granting of night licenses by the Ballarat East Licensing Court. The court refused a large number of night license applications on the grounds that the hotels were not first class houses with accommodation, and therefore did not require them:

In reference to the refusals, the only remark made by the Bench was, that they had come to the determination to grant night licenses only to first class houses, where the accommodation was absolutely required. It was also specially mentioned that the holders of night licenses would be expected to close their houses at 11 p.m. on Saturday nights.[1]

This refusal was challenged, with licensees arguing that if they wanted a night license, it should be granted as a matter of course. The court was forced to change its rulings a couple of weeks later:

NIGHT LICENCES. Before the applications came on for consideration, the bench retired into their private room for the purpose» it was to be presumed, of considering the steps to be taken by them in relation to the present applications, which included the names of thirteen of the refused applicants of the last meeting. After about twenty minutes' absence they returned. The Chairman said-" Before entering into the consideration of the night licenses separately, I think it right to state that their refusal before was not because there was any objection to the individuals' characters, but because the police on Ballarat were not sufficient to carry on the provisions of the Act. The matter has been talked about pretty considerably out of doors, and the bench have carefully reconsidered the matter, though they have taken no notice of the remarks which hare been flying about. They believe, however, there is something in the argument that all publicans to whom general licenses have been granted, have always been led to expect night licenses too, as a matter of course. This cannot be said of the Eastern Bench, as this is their first annual meeting for licensing purposes. On a reconsideration of the whole matter, the Bench have come to the determination of considering each application separately, and if the police have no objection of granting them. But I have to inform all applicants, that persons who have night licenses must not only close their doors at twelve, but exclude people from the house. The determination of the Bench is, that if the night licenses are not carried out properly, they will be rescinded. The Chairman concluded his speech with a reference to the clerical error, by which the night licenses granted at last meeting were up to 12 at night. He believed no respectable person would take advantage of such an error, and if he did the license would be cancelled.[2]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1858 'EASTERN POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 15 July, p. 2. , viewed 05 Nov 2017,
  2. 1858 'SPECIAL LICENSING MEETING.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 24 July, p. 2. , viewed 05 Nov 2017,