Licensing: Get the measure of the new rules

Related tags New mandatory conditions Vodka Alcoholic beverage

You may recall that one of the questions raised during the recent consultation into the government's proposals for reform of the Licensing Act was...

You may recall that one of the questions raised during the recent consultation into the government's proposals for reform of the Licensing Act was whether respondents thought the introduction of the first raft of new mandatory conditions in April had had a positive effect in preventing alcohol related crime.

The consultation paper also asked whether any or all of the new mandatory conditions should be scrapped.

However, the paper also made it clear that any reform would come too late to prevent the second set of mandatory conditions, which came into force on Friday, as the regulations giving effect to them have already been enacted.

A number of operators have asked us whether, as a result of the consultation, the implementation of these new mandatory conditions has been postponed. Unfortunately, the answer to this is no.

So it is, then, that regardless of the answers the government has received to the above questions (and we are willing to bet that a significant number of those who responded will have called for the new mandatory conditions to be repealed), the new conditions relating to smaller measures and age verification are now in force and attached to your premises licence as from October 1, 2010, last week.

What must you do?

So what do these new measures mean for your business?

Firstly, it is now mandatory to have an age verification policy in place. This policy must require those who appear to be aged under 18 (or such older age as is specified in the policy) to produce ID bearing their photograph, date of birth and a holographic mark, before being served alcohol. Needless to say, once you have such a policy in place, you must follow it.

If you already implement a Challenge 21 or Challenge 25 policy, this will meet the requirements. The new condition does not require you to make your policy known to customers, so there is no need to post additional signage if you do not want to.

This condition applies to both the on and off-trade, which makes it difficult to see how, going forward, distance selling will work in practice.

The second new condition requires you to make smaller measures of certain drinks available. These are a half pint of beer or cider, 25ml or 35ml of gin, rum, vodka or whisky, and 125ml when it comes to a glass of still wine.

These new requirements do not apply to pre-prepared and pre-packaged alcoholic drinks.

This means that the new half pint measure is only required to be available in relation to draught products - you can carry on selling those 500ml bottles of real ale.

You are required to make customers aware that the above measures are available. You could do this by signs at the premises or by updating your drinks lists.

You could face a review of your premises licence or prosecution if you do not comply with these new conditions. Upon a prosecution, the maximum penalty is the same as for any breach of condition - namely a fine of £20,000, six months' imprisonment, or both.

Related topics Licensing law

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