We offer a full service which means we can advise you through purchasing or selling your business or freehold, in addition to all operational activities, compliance and unforeseen business challenges.

We assist owners and operators, as well as businesses with leasehold rights and those who operate multiple venues. Our client expertise spans across:

  • restaurants, cafés and catering
  • pubs, clubs, bars and RSLs
  • hotels and resorts
  • golf clubs, sporting venues, conference centres and special events
  • tourist and caravan parks

What sets us apart is our commitment to work with you at your location and understand your business, whether you are in the metropolitan area or regional Victoria, because we believe context is everything.

With Rigby Cooke operating as an extension of your team, you can trust that your business is legally compliant and protected, while you focus on the most important drivers of success – your customers.

Liquor and gaming licensing

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.

You will 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 you with:

  • licensing and gaming applications and compliance issues for new and established venues
  • transfer of liquor licence applications
  • panel hearings, defence applications and enforcement proceedings
  • buying, selling and leasing licensed businesses
  • 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

Caravan and tourist parks

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, including crown law and planning scheme legislation.

We are long-time supporters, advisers and sponsors of VicParks, the Victorian Caravan Parks Association.

Buying, selling and structuring a business

If you are considering expanding, buying, selling or restructuring a hospitality business, it is best to seek advice from lawyers who intimately understand the specific scenarios that your hospitality contract should cover, the long-term ramifications of the agreement and how best to structure your business to minimise financial risk, complex accountabilities and onerous compliance.

Rigby Cooke will provide appropriate guidance on all elements of your business or transaction, from the regulatory and compliance aspects through to individual facets such as the physical property, lease, liquor licence or employment matters.

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.

Property development, planning and local government issues

When developing property, there are legal requirements across the full project lifecycle, from the planning stages through to completion and sale. Liquor or gaming licensing can be greatly impacted by the dwelling, so appropriately considering these issues prior to commencing is vital.

Rigby Cooke’s long history in property development means we have the depth of experience to assist you to streamline the whole process – from the initial planning approval, subdividing, financing, building and construction contract advice, and if you choose to sell, the conveyancing and ultimate settlement.

Commercial law and intellectual property

Working with you, we take a 360-degree view of your operation, considering your objectives, stakeholder requirements, operational practices and risk profile. It is this big-picture thinking that allows us to see challenges and opportunities differently. We can help you with end-to-end commercial law solutions, including fund raising, commercial contracts and agreements, regulatory and privacy compliance, lending and Personal Property Securities Advisory, and intellectual property, trade mark and copyright protection.

Learn more about our corporate & commercial services >>

Employment and visas

Restaurants, cafés, catering and takeaway businesses are the largest employer in the tourism industry, employing more than 500,000 Australians.

While approximately 90% of cafés and restaurants are small businesses employing 19 people or less, it is integral your business has a strong and compliant human resources function and is operating under the laws that affect the industry, as the penalties for non-compliance can be severe; in some circumstances, owners can also be personally liable.

We can help you with a full suite of workplace relations services, including contracts of employment, policies, performance management, terminations and redundancies, unfair dismissal claims and other employment related disputes, enterprise agreements, WorkCover claims, occupational health and safety, industrial relations and disputes, regulatory compliance and business migration.

Learn more about our workplace relations services >>

Tax and asset protection

The best way to effectively manage tax issues is to ensure, through sound planning, that issues are considered in advance.

Tax should be a key part of all decision-making on structures, investments, financing, asset protection and commercial transactions. However, to do this well, you need advice from experts who are up-to-date on current domestic and international tax laws.

We can provide you with strategic advice on how to structure your business, transaction or development to achieve maximum tax efficiency, including stamp duty considerations, GST and employment related tax obligations.

Learn more about our tax services >>

Our experts can also assist you with wealth protection strategies, including asset protection, estate planning, trusts and superannuation, and if insolvency issues arise – creditor claims, preserving critical business assets, defending bankruptcy and protecting family wealth.

Learn more about our estate planning services >>

Learn more about our insolvency and reconstruction services >>

Dispute resolution

We assist our clients to avoid commercial disputes wherever possible, but understand that sometimes disputes are unavoidable. When a dispute does arise, we give frank and fearless advice.

By its nature, litigation is a process fraught with variables and uncertainty. The challenge that our experienced litigators rise to every day, is to minimise that uncertainty and steer a clear path for our clients towards achieving their success. This is something we are passionate about.

Our team are highly experienced in all forms of litigation, but not all disputes have to be litigated. Where appropriate, we will work to find an alternative approach that will save you the time, stress and cost of going to court. This may include mediation or arbitration.

Learn more about our dispute resolution services >>

Active relationships with the regulators

We are actively involved with numerous regulatory bodies that can affect business operations of club owners, and through our involvement, keep our clients informed with industry information, regulatory changes and how they will impact our clients’ specific operations.

  • Victorian Commission of Gambling & Liquor Regulation
  • Law Institute of Victoria’s Liquor Licensing Committee
  • Building Dispute Practitioners’ Society
  • Victorian Planning and Environmental Association
  • Urban Development Institute of Australia


Rigby Cooke Lawyers are an invaluable part of our golf operations team. They assisted us with the sale and leaseback of our land assets as well as providing us with sensible day-to-day advice regarding the operations of our business.

In particular, Darren Marx’s intricate knowledge of how the business of a golf club works meant we received practical, relevant and cost effective advice.

His input with the decisions that were required to be made by the Board and Management proved to be invaluable.

David Sanders, general manager of Yering Meadows Golf Club

I have had a relationship with Rigby Cooke Lawyers for many years and during this time, the firm has worked on a number of hotel related transactions and projects for mutual clients, all with a successful outcome.

They understand the business, they are thorough, professional and efficient. They listen well, which is refreshing, and understand the value and importance of time.

Rob Wilson, principal of Prime Square