Hugos Group flags potential class action against NSW state government
In light of the recent closure of Hugos Lounge Kings Cross, owner Dave Evans is considering the launch of a class action against the NSW state government together with fellow Sydney operators that have been affected by the state’s lockout laws.
The venue entered voluntary administration late last month and on 5 August, administrator HLB Mann Judd confirmed that Hugos Lounge & Hugos Bar Pizza in Kings Cross had shut down.
Despite operating within the lockout zone, owner Dave Evans says that Hugos was voted six times as the best night club in Australia; had never received a strike under the Government's three strikes rule; and had never been placed on the dangerous venues list.
Evans says that since the lockout laws were introduced, the Kings Cross area experienced a 60 percent drop in trade togther with an 80 percent drop in customers, and now, two law firms and multiple property owners and businesses have contacted Hugos regarding class action legal proceedings for compensation for their financial losses.
“Hugos in Kings Cross set the standard on how to have a great time safely – but we had no chance once former Premier O'Farrell introduced his one-size-fits-all laws,” says Evans.
“From a business, entertainment and safety perspective, we did every single thing right, yet blanket laws were imposed on us that drove our customers away to other suburbs without restrictions.
“I really just don't understand it. The Coalition is supposed to be the party of small business but they put us out of business.
The lockout laws were announced in late January, 2014 and rushed through parliament following the death of Sydney teenager Daniel Christie. The reforms aimed to reduce the level of alcohol-fuelled violence across Sydney’s inner city suburbs including Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, The Rocks and Darling Harbour.
Evans says that the introduction of the lockout laws by the NSW Government’s represented a knee-jerk reaction to the tragedy, stating that the laws were well-intentioned, but ill-informed.
“We didn't do anything wrong,” says Evans. “But the NSW Government not only wouldn't hear us out, they wouldn't even take our calls.
“So instead, now they can take the calls from our lawyers.”
Evans says that today, 70 Hugos staff have now been made redundant on top of the 100 staff who have been let go over the past two years as trade in the area has rapidly declined.
“That's it. That's 15 years of hard work gone down the drain. It's just so sad and heartbreaking," said Evans.