BREAKING NEWS: Update on Reciprocal Rights

23 October 2019

You will be aware earlier this year Reciprocal Rights made its way into the spotlight when a number of clubs were challenged during their licence renewal process over the way reciprocal rights was administered and managed.

The challenge to reciprocal rights resulted in confusion, a fair amount of panic and more emails bouncing around clubs than ever before.

All came to a head in early September when Clubs New Zealand appeared alongside the Otorohanga Club at a District Licensing Committee hearing to consider “whether all clubs affiliated to Clubs New Zealand Incorporated are ‘clubs with reciprocal visiting rights’ for Otorohanga Club Incorporated.”

The licensing committee sought submissions and evidence in regard to the following questions:

  1. Does the constitution or rules of Otorohanga Club permit the club to have an arrangement for reciprocal visiting rights with all members of Clubs New Zealand Incorporated?
  2. Does each organisation that is a member of Clubs New Zealand Incorporated hold a club licence and meet the definition of a club (under sections 5 and 60 of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012)?
  3. Does the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 permit another organisation to administer reciprocal visiting rights for the holder of a club licence?

Given the above questions this was an incredibly important hearing for Clubs New Zealand and all member clubs.

Clubs New Zealand and the Otorohanga Club sought council and presented a submission which aimed to provide context and answers to the three questions posed by the Committee.  The aim was to demonstrate that Reciprocal Visiting Rights have been part and parcel of clubs' existence in New Zealand for decades.  They are a fundamental and legislatively recognised concomitant of club life in New Zealand. In order to answer the DLCs questions, it was appropriate and necessary to contextualise reciprocal visiting rights starting all the way back in the 1800s.

The Decision

At the conclusion of the hearing the DLC confirmed that the Otorohanga Club licence would be renewed with all the conditions being sought approved (renewed as undesignated, the new outside area is added to the licenced premises and authorised visitors can bring guests).

As per the decision paperwork which you can download below the Licensing Committee accepts that when Parliament changed the words to "an arrangement for" it was envisaged that an umbrella organisation could broker the arrangement on behalf of the club.  Therefore, it was no longer necessary for a bilateral agreement.  In addition, it was no longer a requirement that an affiliated club be the holder of a licence.  This requirement was removed as a result of a recommendation of the Laking Report (page 132)...

...The Licensing Committee accepts that there is nothing in the wording of section 60(3) itself or in the definition of "authorised visitor" that requires bilateral agreements between two specific clubs.  Therefore, there is nothing in that definition precluding the "arrangements" from being administered by Clubs New Zealand Inc, for its members.....

Point 47 is also hugely important in that it puts the argument of clubs needing to be ‘like’ clubs to bed.  …”The licensing committee asked whether reciprocal visiting rights should be based on a ‘common bond’ or ‘common purpose’, such as a particular sport.  Mr Sherriff responded that being a club is the common bond.  He explained that if a member of a club wants to visit a premises with a convivial atmosphere for social interaction while away from home, they look for a kindred club.  Membership of Clubs New Zealand facilitates this interaction for its members.  In his written submissions, Mr Sherriff reiterated that clubs are not-for-profit bodies that exist for mutual social intercourse of members with a common interest in club life per se, or in some sporting, cultural, recreational, or other not-for-gain pursuit.  With the ease of transportation, club competitions and other inter-club interactions have become more common.  Hence, for club members, reciprocal visiting rights are an important and integral part of the social and societal club life, and a home away from home, that has been recognised by Parliament and was extended by Parliament in 2012.”

Download the Renewal Decision

You still need to walk the talk

The outcome of the Otorohanga hearing legitimises and acknowledges reciprocal rights arrangement administered through Clubs New Zealand membership, however, as highlighted in the decision paperwork it does not excuse clubs from ensuring that their rules are up to date and appropriate and that you have adequate tools, processes and procedures in place for identifying authorised visitors.

The Clubs New Zealand Visitors and Guests model rule was reviewed as part of the DLC hearing and we highly recommend that all clubs adopt this rule in its entirety into their constitutions.  Consistency of club rules in regard to authorised customers and visitors is paramount – there are sadly a lot of clubs whose rules around guests and visitors are woefully inadequate and this risks letting down everyone despite the outcome of the recent hearing.

Sign in books – A lot of clubs have forgone the need for reciprocal visitors to “sign in” and this is perfectly acceptable, however, staff must be sighting their valid membership card (or digital membership card) at the point of sale!  You must be treating authorised customers and authorised visitors the same way you treat a minor.  If staff cannot confirm that a person is an authorised customer or an authorised visitor – THEY CANNOT SERVE THEM!

If your sign in books are still by the front door, unmanned with anyone just being able to scribble a name and take a slip, stop what you are doing and move it to the bar now, the buck must stop at the bar!

Arm your staff with information and tools, your staff are your last line of defence.  Make sure you are printing off the Clubs New Zealand authorised visitor list each month and putting it behind the bar.  Get on board with the Clubs New Zealand App, if someone has the in app digital membership card, their membership has been verified and staff can know at a glance that the person has reciprocal rights – it’s a no brainer!

As soon as we have the decision paperwork, we will share this with you all.  If you have any questions, concerns or require further clarification please contact national office on 0800 4 CLUBS.

Get your hands on the future

With the Clubs New Zealand App

Get your hands on the future with Clubs New Zealand's App which can be downloaded on both Apple and Android.  The Clubs New Zealand App is all about helping you get more out of your membership. As a member of a club you can access any of our network of 300 member clubs as a reciprocal visitor and visiting a club is a breeze with the new digital membership card.


Find out more