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Prepare for an Appeal or Violation Hearing

The Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission ("ABCC") holds hearings on issues related to both state and retail licenses.

Retail license hearings fall into four categories:

  1. A licensee's appeal of a Local Licensing Authority's denial of a license application;
  2. A licensee's appeal of a Local Licensing Authority's enforcement action (suspension, modification, cancellation or revocation of a retail license);
  3. An ABCC informational hearing on a license application;
  4. An ABCC direct enforcement action (suspension, modification, cancellation or revocation of a retail license).


State-issued license hearings fall into three categories:

  1. An ABCC informational hearing on a license application;
  2. An ABCC Investigator's enforcement action (suspension, modification, cancellation or revocation of a state-issued license); and,
  3. A wholesaler's petition for relief from a supplier's refusal to sell a brand or petition for determination of good cause to terminate sales of a brand from a supplier to a wholesaler.

Timeframe to File an Appeal

Whenever a LLA denies an application for a new license, refuses to issue a license, suspends, revokes, modifies or cancels a license, or denies an application for transfer, it must mail a notice of such action to the applicant or licensee and the ABCC. The notice must state the reason for such action. The applicant or licensee must appeal the action of the LLA to the ABCC within 5 BUSINESS DAYS of receipt of the LLA's written decision. On new license applications, the applicant can also appeal if the LLA does not act within 30 days of receipt of the application. 

Timeframes for Hearings

Informational hearings regarding license applications are typically scheduled within 2 weeks after the ABCC receives the hearing request.

ABCC Investigator’s enforcement hearings are generally scheduled within 30 days after the ABCC issues its notice of violation hearing.

Hearings on a petition for relief from a supplier’s refusal to sell a brand or a petition for determination of good cause to terminate sales of a brand from a supplier to a wholesaler are scheduled to occur within 110 days of the filing of the petition/request for determination.

Appeal Notices

The ABCC provides written notice of scheduled hearings, including the date, time, and required documentation.

Submission of Exhibits and Pre-Trial Memorandum

Parties to an appeal are required to file a jointly prepared Pre-Hearing Memorandum attaching the proposed exhibits and witness list with the ABCC within 3 weeks of receiving the hearing notice. Failure to file this Pre-Hearing Memorandum may result in proposed exhibits being excluded, the appeal being dismissed or other appropriate sanctions. 

Rules of Procedure

ABCC hearings are conducted pursuant to the Massachusetts Administrative Procedures Act, M.G.L. c. 30A and the Informal Rules of Adjudicatory Practice and Procedure, codified in 801 CMR 1.02 et seq. The procedures on this page are based on these regulations as well as agency policy.

Postpone Your Hearing (Request a Continuance)

Mutual requests to continue a hearing are generally allowed by the ABCC. The re-scheduled date will be subject to ABCC availability. 

To request a continuance, the party seeking the continuance or "the moving party" should submit a written request (a "motion") at least seven (7) days before the event.  Whenever possible, the parties should confer before the request is submitted, to determine if another party is opposed to postponement.  The written request should state whether any party opposes the request.  In the ordinary course, if a request for a continuance is not assented to, it will not be ruled upon until the time for filing any opposition has run. 

Emergency motions to continue may be submitted less than seven (7) days in advance.  Such a motion should be entitled “Emergency Motion to Continue” and should explain in detail (1) why the motion could not have been filed sooner; (2) which, if any, other parties are opposed to the request; and (3) if another party's position on the motion is unknown, what steps have been taken to contact that party and determine his/her/its position. 

Request Copies of Hearing Recordings

ABCC hearings are tape-recorded. To obtain a copies of the recordings, send a written request to:

Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission 
239 Causeway Street, 1st Floor
Boston, MA 02114 

The request should contain the case name and hearing date and time. The ABCC will send a written acknowledgement of the request, which will include an estimate of the cost of duplicating the tapes (approximately $25.00 per tape).  The ABCC will send the hearing tape(s) to an authorized vendor for duplication.  The individual requesting the tape must pay the vendor directly.  The vendor will forward a copy of the tape to the ABCC and the ABCC will forward a copy of the tape to the requesting party only after the vendor has received payment. 

Anyone can listen to the tape(s) of an ABCC hearing at our office at no cost. Submit a written request to our office at

Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission 
ATTENTION: TAPE REQUESTS
239 Causeway Street, 1st Floor
Boston, MA 02114 

Upon receipt, ABCC staff will contact the requesting party to schedule a mutually convenient time when the tapes and appropriate space will be available.

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