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Connecticut DCP News: Guidance Regarding Consultant Representation

January 9, 2023

From the Office of M. Caitlin S. Anderson

Liquor Control Division Director

Guidance Statement Regarding Consultant Representation

This statement addresses the consequences of a permit applicant or permittee utilizing a consultant to either (1) assist with a liquor permit application or other permit-related requests filed with the Department of Consumer Protection (hereinafter “Department”) or (2) assist with compliance meetings and/or hearings before the Department.

Consultants are individuals who advertise having expertise with the liquor permit application process.  They undertake assorted tasks to assist potential permit holders with their applications, such as advising on which permit to select, filling out forms, and communicating with the Department on the application. Consultants often maintain their relationship with a permit holder beyond the initial application and manage the yearly renewal process or submit additional licensing requests for the permit holder.

Additionally, consultants may appear with or on behalf of liquor permit holders during enforcement proceedings concerning the liquor permit. In other words, consultants’ services can span the lifetime of a permit and the full scope of the Liquor Control Act. However, consultants are not licensed attorneys and do not maintain an attorney-client fiduciary relationship with their client.

Although a consultant or other third-party may submit documents and provide other information to the Department in support of a permittee or permit applicant, it is clear that the applicant, permittee, and backer are ultimately responsible for the contents of their application and the communication with the Department about their application. See Conn. Gen. Stat. § 53a-157b(a); see generally Conn. Gen. Stat. §§ 30-46 & 30-47. As a result, if an application submitted to the Department includes a false statement or fails to include required documentation– even if submitted by a consultant – it may result in the applicant, permittee or backer having a new application denied or an existing permit suspended or revoked.

In addition to licensing assistance, consultants are also hired by applicants, permittees, and backers to represent them during Department enforcement proceedings against liquor permits, either during the compliance meeting process or during formal administrative hearings. At the compliance meeting, the consultant participates by discussing the underlying charges, demonstrating their client’s updated compliance, and possibly brokering a voluntary settlement.

At a formal administrative hearing, consultants participate by questioning the Department’s witnesses and assisting their client in presenting their defense to the charges. Hearings may result in steeper fines, lengthier suspension, and even revocation or denials of permits. At these compliance meetings and hearings, the Department has observed conflicts where a consultant seeks to preserve his or her own business interest at the expense of their client (e.g., where the consultant is a hired namesake permittee and attempts to short-change the backer) or where the consultants make statements and representations that damage the permittee or backer’s interests in the proceedings.

In light of the above, the Department will only allow permit applications or related submissions from a consultant if the applicant, permittee, or backer has provided written authorization for the consultant to act on their behalf. The proper form will be created by the Department and must be submitted anytime a consultant files an application or licensing request on behalf of a new client. The Department will not allow a consultant to represent an applicant or permittee in any compliance meeting or formal administrative hearing held on a matter concerning a liquor permit.

Nothing in this Guidance Statement should be construed to impact the actions or representation of a licensed attorney hired by an applicant, permittee, or backer to assist with any licensing matter or enforcement matter.  The Department will, however, require the submission of the same written authorization as confirmation of the attorney’s participation in the matter.

The Department of Consumer Protection, through the State Liquor Control Commission, oversees all sales of liquor in the State of Connecticut.

450 Columbus Boulevard, Suite 901, Hartford, CT 06103 | TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf): (860) 713-7240
Website: http://www.ct.gov/dcp | An Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer

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