Restaurants, pubs, hotels, motels and caravan parks makeup the Victorian hospitality and tourism industry. With over three decades’ experience, Rigby Cooke Lawyers understand the issues facing owners and operators of these facilities, as well as businesses with leasehold rights and those who operate multiple venues.

Each bring with them a unique set of challenges for owners and operators across the regions.  Operators have to deal with legal and regulatory requirements, while also managing the operational demands of the business.

We offer a full service which means we can advise you from buying, through all operational activities and challenges, to selling the business and freehold.

Our lawyers can also help you with all your employment, tax and commercial matters relating to operating, buying or selling businesses in this sector.

Expertise includes:

  • Liquor licensing
  • Buy and selling businesses – freehold, leases and licences to operate
  • Advice on regulatory requirements and compliance
  • Planning and local government issues, including Crown leasing
  • Financial issues including loan / security documents, debt collection, tax arrangements and stamp duty
  • All leasing issues, including drafting, renewal and negotiation of terms
  • Understanding owner / operator rights including residential and retail tenancy laws
  • Employee arrangements including visa requirements
  • Dispute resolution, court and VCAT representations
  • Asset protection.

Business Sales and Purchases

If you are considering buying or selling a tourism or hospitality business, you need advice from people who intimately understand what the contract should cover, and the long-term ramifications of the agreement.

Rigby Cooke have been working for many years with Victoria’s tourism and hospitality operators and understand the special aspects of this industry. We know that buying a hotel or motel is a different affair to buying a caravan park. Buying in regional Victoria is different again to buying in Melbourne.

We can provide expert guidance to you on all elements of the business you are considering buying, from the regulatory and compliance aspects through to the individual facets such as the physical property, the lease, the liquor licence or employment matters.

Our key areas of expertise include:

  • contract preparation and contract advice
  • lease preparation and advice
  • lease transfers and lease disclosure statements
  • freehold land contracts and vendor’s statements
  • transfer of business registration
  • town planning and title restructures
  • property purchase and sales 
  • stamp duty

Business structures

Running a successful business requires a foundation of a sound and appropriate business structure.

Rigby Cooke’s solid experience in the hospitality and tourism sector means we can provide expert advice regarding your business, whether that be expansion, restructuring, buying or selling.

We can also ensure your business and personal financial matters are kept separate, so you can focus on taking your business forward with the appropriate levels of risk.

Our key areas of expertise include:

  • establishing the correct structure and vehicle to operate your business
  • partnerships, companies, trusts and joint venture agreements to provide the best asset protection for business and privately held assets
  • financing and securities documentation.


Hospitality businesses are subject to a range of legal and regulatory requirements, and operate within a constantly changing environment.  You must deal with suppliers, customers, financial issues, maintenance of your premises and more.  You need to be on top of all these issues in order to keep your business operating and your customers happy.  

While you are focussing on customer service, you want to know your compliance responsibilities are being managed appropriately.

Rigby Cooke’s expert team of hospitality and tourism lawyers know exactly what your challenges are, and can help ensure you are complying with the specific regulatory requirements that apply to your business.

Our key areas of expertise include:

  • liquor licensing
  • hotels and motels
  • restaurants, cafes and catering services
  • resorts
  • caravan parks

Liquor and Gaming

The Victorian liquor and gaming industry is highly regulated. These regulations apply to pubs, clubs and gaming venues, in addition to service clubs, cafes, restaurants, special events and tourist parks.

In this highly complex area, operators have to balance commercial, legal and community interests.

Rigby Cooke are experts in the hospitality, liquor and gaming sector. We work hard to understand our clients’ businesses. We like to come to you, whether you are in the metropolitan area or regional Victoria, because we believe context is everything.

You benefit from our ability to bring together the range of legal services required to help your business, combined with our significant industry insight, knowledge, networks and excellent working relationships with agents, governing bodies and regulators.

We are actively involved with the Victorian Commission of Gambling & Liquor Regulation and the Law Institute of Victoria’s Liquor Licensing Committee, and through our involvement keep our clients up to date with industry information and regulatory changes and impacts.

We can help with:

  • Licensing and gaming applications and compliance issues for new and established venues
  • Transfer of liquor licence applications
  • Buying, selling and leasing licensed businesses
  • Panel hearings, defence applications and enforcement proceedings involving the Victorian Commission of Gambling and Liquor licensing and Victoria Police
  • Planning applications and disputes
  • Appearing at VCAT for licensees in matters relating to applications by the Police, local councils, the Victorian Commission of Gambling and Liquor licensing
  • Supplier, distribution and contract arrangements with contractors, employees and promoters
  • Promotional arrangements and agreements
  • Venue Operator Licence applications
  • Gaming Venue approvals


Running a tourism business means managing a lot of moving parts. Not only are there the day-to-day needs of managing employees and contractors, but you are also managing the vagaries of the events, weather and geography at the same time as dealing with customers and clients.

Rigby Cooke’s team has many years of experience working with tourism operators and advising on the special needs of people in this industry. We are one of the few legal firms in Victoria who work regularly with caravan park owners and understand the challenges presented in this very popular tourism sector.

Our key areas of expertise include:

  • leasing and licensing agreements
  • liaison with authorities
  • obtaining permits
  • Crown law issues
  • interpretation of planning schemes and related legislation
  • environmental issues
  • land subdivisions
  • sales and purchases
  • ownership structures
  • asset protection
  • financing arrangements.
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