Tasting a parent's drink

Related tags Licensing act Alcoholic beverage

QWe were visited by the police during the recent hot weather and told we would be reported for 'allowing a 14-year-old, sitting with her parents in...

QWe were visited by the police during the recent hot weather and told we would be reported for 'allowing a 14-year-old, sitting with her parents in the garden, to drink an alcoholic drink. It turned out to be her mother's, but the police had seen her drinking it. Am I liable?

AI have had several questions on the same point recently. No, you are not liable. It is an offence for the licensee to sell intoxicating liquor direct to a person under 18, or knowingly allowing such a person to consume liquor in a bar. It is, therefore, the consumption in a bar that is prohibited and for which the licensee could be prosecuted.

Consumption by persons under 18 who are outside the bar at the time is not covered by this prohibition directly, whatever the popular idea might be. For example, consumption of intoxicating liquor by minors in a restaurant in licensed premises is not prohibited under the Licensing Act.

The law requires that the licence-holder and his staff should be vigilant about what happens within their immediate control, that is, in the bar area itself. The holder of the licence and his staff should also check the bar area regularly, to ensure that no offences against the licensing laws are taking place.

The point to be borne in mind is that no offence is being committed either by the landlord or the adult customer if a legal purchase of liquor is made in the bar which is subsequently consumed by a person under 18 in the garden. No sale has been made to a person under 18, and no consumption of liquor by such a person is taking place in the bar. So there is no technical offence.

This being said, a licensee may be risking problems to allow uncontrolled drinking by minors anywhere on his premises, and where a youngster is found drunk or inebriated in any part of the licensed premises then the landlord may be guilty of an offence. So although the law is technically not being broken, it may be advisable in certain circumstances to impose your own controls in this matter, although spontaneous drinking of this kind is almost impossible to monitor.

IMPORTANT: The law will be changed when the new Licensing Act takes effect on 24 November and any consumption by persons under 18 (except in certain restaurant circumstances) will be banned.

Restricted hours will go

QWhen my new premises licence comes through, will Christmas Day and Good Friday still be restricted? I cannot find anything about this in all the material I have been sent.

AThe intention is to remove all permitted hours restrictions, so the new Licensing Act does not contain any direct reference to these days with regard to a restriction on hours.

However, if you have applied for a straight conversion of your existing licence, it will include just the permitted hours which you are currently entitled to use under the Licensing Act 1964. Unless you apply for a variation, those will be the times you are allowed to sell alcohol.

Good Friday hours will continue to be the same as Sunday hours, and Christmas Day hours will be noon until 3pm and 7pm until 10.30pm.

In future, the hours that you open will be governed by your operating plan throughout the whole of the year, including holiday periods. If you wish for extra hours on these days, you must vary your licence.

It would be possible for restrictions to be imposed by the local authority, but they would have to show that a restriction on religious festival days was necessary to meet the licensing objectives, and that might be difficult.

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