Alcohol code guidance lacks clarity

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage

£5 all-inclusive: banned under new conditions
£5 all-inclusive: banned under new conditions
New guidance on the mandatory alcohol code does not solve the confusion surrounding the controversial measures, trade leaders say. The Home Office...

New guidance on the mandatory alcohol code does not solve the confusion surrounding the controversial measures, trade leaders say.

The Home Office has finally released its guidance to the code, part of which goes live today (6 April).

The 14-page guidance gives examples of the kind of promotions that are outlawed from today. For instance, the ban on offering large quantities of alcohol at a fixed or discounted price could 12 free shots for £5 entry, or pay for entry then free drinks until 10pm.

Guidance on the other eight conditions - including no "dentist chair"-type promotions and free tap water, which comes into force today - are also included, and there's a frequently asked questions section.

But Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers communications chief Kate Nicholls pointed to "gray areas" that still exist.

For example, the guidance says happy hours, pub crawls and "general discounting of alcohol" is not being banned per se, but will only fall foul if "promoted and organised in an irresponsible way".

Nicholls said: "I don't think it gives more guidance than we had from the legislation itself. It still leaves a lot of questions unanswered and a lot of gray areas."

The guidance says "substantially similar activities" to those described will also be banned as the list is not exhaustive.

Noctis executive director Paul Smith highlighted the advice on prizes on rewards, which bans deals that "make a customer drink a certain amount of alcohol in order to get a prize or reward (including free alcohol)" within 24 hours.

Smith said promotions linked to branded prizes, commonly used in pubs, could fall foul of this.

"There's still going to be an awful lot of local interpretation used with the guidance. We were hoping for greater clarity.

"The lack of clarity is going to cause major problems for anyone running an estate of venues because they will be interpreted in different ways across the country."

British Beer & Pub Association communications manager Neil Williams said: "Though we welcome measures that address problems in the small minority of irresponsible premises, there are still concerns over how the mandatory code will be implemented, with potential issues of differing interpretation regarding irresponsible promotions and age verification schemes.

"We will continue to press the case for clarity and consistency across the country, both to the Home Office, the police and to local councils as they go about implementing these measures."

View the guidance here.

Related topics: Legislation

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