The Government’s Liquor Board has been sued for an undisclosed amount by an unhappy member of the business community.
Member of Parliament, Olo Fiti Vaai, is behind the lawsuit in relation to the Board’s decision to shut his bar, the Blacknose Bar, in August last year.
He confirmed this to the Samoa Observer.
“I can confirm we have filed a motion asking the Supreme Court to review the decision by the Liquor Control Board last year which led to Black Nose Bar & Restaurant closing down indefinitely,” he said.
“There were a number of issues with the decision, including that it appears to have been made without the proper legal process being followed.”
A Court Registrar also confirmed with the Samoa Observer that the matter has been filed with the Supreme Court.
Last year August, the Secretary of the Liquor Board, Epi Leo Tuimauga wrote to Olo and ordered his bar to be closed right away.
“The conclusion follows a written report from the Ministry of Police in relation to an incident involving Security of Blacknose Bar who assaulted a customer,” the letter reads.
“The incident occurred on June 23, 2017. This is not the first time that such an incident has occurred at the Blacknose Bar.
“It’s evident that you (Olo) do not adhere to the laws governing alcohol. The issues have been addressed to you directly with the Board.
“For these reasons, you are asked to close down your Blacknose Bar.”
At the time when Olo was asked for a comment, he claimed the decision was “unfounded”.
“There are fights in all of the bars in our country, why haven't those clubs been ordered to close down?
“I don’t get why I have been asked to close down my bar over the actions of an employee. It just doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Olo said his bar always complied with requirements from the Liqour Board. The incident with the security officer was an internal matter, he added.
“This is an internal matter and my Blacknose Bar should not be affected over the actions of an employee, namely a security who they claimed assaulted a customer.
“This matter is pending in Court and yet they have made their decision based on the report of the Police.
“My club is being closed due to the actions of an employee, whom in reality I cannot control.
“I am not saying my security officer is guilty, now do I allow this type of behavior.
“But my point is if they are closing down my club due to a fight, then they should do the same to the other clubs where there are always fights?”
Olo said he would fight this case all the way.
Chairman of the Liquor Board and the Minister of Revenue, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, in response last year September, defended their decision.
Tialavea explained that this was not the first time the Liquor Control Board had closed the bar in question.
“We closed it down during the holidays and the decision came after numerous complaints and numerous warnings given to the bar owner about the loud noise.
“The place is so exposed and therefore the sound system is not contained.
“And families in the area have complained about the noise numerous times.”
The Chairman made it clear that the fights were was not the main reason the Liquor Board came to that conclusion.
“We agree with him that other bars have had fights, but this was not the main reason.
“It’s the numerous warnings, yet nothing was done about the noise, so the board was left with no option, but to close down the bar.
“We have also informed the bar located on the S.L.C. complex that they need to heed the warning that families nearby have filed official complaints.
“This is a residential area and families need to have rest in the evenings and they cannot do that when the music from the bar is echoing in their residence.
“Even this bar is widely open and those running the bar need to bar it up, somehow to contain the music within,” he said.
“As far as I know, we are doing our mandates and if the bar owners want to challenge our decision in Court, then do so. “If they win, then we will let the Court deal with the complaints from the families in the vicinity.”