Halifax judge grants delay in Nova Scotia wine-making injunction case

HALIFAX - An attempt by Nova Scotia's Crown liquor corporation to prevent two businesses from producing wine and beer in their stores was delayed Friday after a judge in Halifax adjourned an injunction hearing.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court Judge Michael Wood set aside the hearing until Jan. 28 in order to give the stores in Halifax and New Glasgow time to get legal advice and review court documents.

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Regulatory changes introduced by the provincial government in 2011 give the Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. the authority to seek a court order to prevent businesses from allowing customers to use wine kits on their premises.

Cheryl Hodder, a lawyer for Nova Scotia Liquor, said the hearing should proceed.

"It's in the public interest to uphold provincial law," she told Wood.

Hodder said the liquor corporation was enforcing the regulations now after sending repeated written warnings to the businesses.

But in his ruling, Wood said he wasn't satisfied with the argument, given that the corporation had known about the activities since 2009 and only served the businesses with legal notice on Wednesday.

The owners of Wine Kitz Halifax and Water 'n' Wine in New Glasgow are contesting the injunction.

A third business named in the injunction application, Wine Kitz New Minas, has decided to comply with the regulations pending the outcome of the upcoming hearing.

Outside court, Wine Kitz Halifax owner Ross Harrington accused Nova Scotia Liquor of setting up a "legal ambush," adding that he would use the extra time allotted by the judge to find a corporate lawyer.

"You can't take a four-inch stack of documents and glean through it in 24 hours and mount a defence," said Harrington. "It's not fair and I'm glad the judge ruled they way he did."

Harrington has been fighting an ongoing battle to use wine kits in his store and says provincial liquor laws are heavily in favour of the liquor corporation.

"Canada Post doesn't make the rules for UPS and FedEx, so why does the corporation make the rules for me?" he said.

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