Woolworths has had a legal victory in its bid to open an alcohol "superstore" in Bicton after an appeal court ruled the WA Liquor Commission failed to properly apply the public interest test when rejecting the retail giant's application.
Yesterday's Court of Appeal decision means the application for a Dan Murphy's store which will include 1296sqm of sales and display space - about seven times the size of average outlets - will have to be reconsidered by the commission.
The commission rejected the original proposal for the store adjacent to the Melville Plaza Shopping Centre on Canning Highway in August 2011 after concluding Woolworths had not satisfied the public interest criterion under liquor licensing laws.
An earlier appeal by Woolworths to a single Supreme Court judge was dismissed, but yesterday's unanimous decision by three Court of Appeal judges has set aside both the commission's decision and the first appeal judge's ruling.
The decision means the original application will be reviewed by the commission in accordance with the law and the principles set down by yesterday's appeal judgment.
The appeal judgment found that the commission had made a series of errors and adopted a flawed approach when deciding there was no evidence capable of establishing that there were consumer needs in the Bicton area for the proposed outlet.
Justice Michael Buss said he was satisfied the commission had asked itself the wrong question and made errors of law.
"I am satisfied that contrary to the commission's effective conclusion, the evidence adduced by the appellant before the commission was capable in law of supporting a finding that there were relevant consumer requirements in the Bicton locality for the range of products and services which the appellant proposed to provide and that granting the appellant's application was in the public interest," Justice Buss said.
A spokeswoman said Dan Murphy's was pleased by the Court of Appeal's ruling to set aside the commission's original decision and have the application referred back for review.The Liquor Commission declined to comment.