Can a licensee surrender his or her license contingent on the license being granted to a particular applicant?
Yes. Although Chapter 125 of the
Wisconsin statutes does not address conditional surrenders, they are
commonly used where a municipality is at quota for “Class B” licenses
and has no licenses or only reserve “Class B” licenses available.
Conditional surrenders are most frequently used where a business with an
existing license is being sold and the seller wants to ensure that the
license will go to the buyer and the buyer wants to ensure that he or
she will have a license. A liquor license is usually an important part
of selling an ongoing business but only the governing body has the
discretion to grant or not grant a license to a particular applicant.
The owner has no way of guaranteeing that the buyer will get the
license, but usually the sale won’t go through if the buyer cannot be
assured that he or she will get a license. Therefore, owners commonly
surrender their license on the condition that the license be granted to
the buyer. If the governing body denies the buyer’s application for the
license (e.g., if the applicant does not meet all of the necessary
qualifications), then the surrender of the license does not take place
because the condition precedent never occurs. Thus the licensee retains
his or her license.