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Friend out of date Q. A friend of my son has set up a retail business and says that he is going to sell packs of beer but without a licence because...

Friend out of date

Q. A friend of my son has set up a retail business and says that he is going to sell packs of beer but without a licence because he is selling in wholesale amounts (ie, one pack per customer). Is he exempt?

A. He is rather out of date and could be in serious trouble. It is true that under the old law, dealing in wholesale quantities did not require a justices' licence and so could be considered exempt. But under the 2003 Licensing Act, the whole definition has been changed. Now, it is only possible to deal wholesale in the true sense —

to traders and licensees for business purposes (and to people who are going to run a bar under temporary event notices).

Selling in any quantity to members of the public requires

a premises licence. Selling without such a licence attracts

a maximum fine of £20,000 or the possibility of up to six months in jail.

Problem of generosity

Q. This is a very friendly country pub which we have taken over, with existing local staff. What do we do about the situation where regulars buy the barmaid a drink which she does not take? Can she take money from the till at the end of her shift?

A. Any practice which causes financial anxiety in a pub has to be studied carefully and you are right to be concerned about this removal of money, which could lead to mistakes in cashing up and discrepancies in the totals.

If your barmaid rings up the full amount of the round, including money charged in respect of her own "drink", then there will be a discrepancy between the money left in the till and the till roll at the end of the evening. The cash remaining, less the float, will be several pounds less than the till roll shows.

On the other hand, the stock of drinks will be correspondingly more than it should be, because the barmaid's "drinks" have not been taken.

If the barmaid makes any error in her addition there will be a further discrepancy which will cause confusion when the totals are entered.

It seems to me that you either need to make a firm house rule that drinks bought by customers should be taken immediately or refused, or that money paid over in lieu of drinks should not appear on the till roll.

Taking away from the premises

Q. Our local police sergeant claims he spoke to people who had come out of my pub at around 12.15am with bottles and cans. He alleges that my licence does not allow this.

I have an 11.30pm terminal but

no conditions about off-sales. The till shows the sales made just after 11pm. Am I breaking the law?

A. There is a rather widespread myth circulating among licensing authorities that the hours stated on the licence are those which apply to all transactions and activities — in other words, the cut-off point for the pub to remain open at all.

Some licences have been seen with words which suggest that consumption of alcohol and taking off-sales from the premises are prohibited after

this time. This is not the case.

As long as all sales of alcohol cease at the time agreed with

the licensing authority, what happens afterwards is a matter entirely for the licensee. The only factor that can affect this is where on transition and variation the authority has fixed a time when premises may be open to the public.

Even then, the taking of alcohol from the premises during this additional period is by no means illegal, and there is effectively nothing that the police officer can do, unless the customers are committing offences or behaving in a rowdy fashion, which is not alleged.

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