Advice on online alcohol delivery services

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Advice on online alcohol delivery services

Related tags Premises licence License Patent

This week's legal Q&A includes information on planning an alcohol delivery service, taking orders by phone or online.

Q: I am planning to start an alcohol delivery service taking orders by telephone or online. The alcohol will be dispatched from an existing licensed premises (a pub or off-licence) with whom I will share the profits or, alternatively, a separate warehouse. Will I need a licence under the Licensing Act for my call centre and are there any other licensing implications?

A: This mode of alcohol sales is becoming increasingly popular. The first thing to remember is that any sale by retail of alcohol to the public will require a premises licence and a designated premises supervisor (DPS) — who must have a current personal licence. Note that you cannot sell alcohol from a vehicle that moves from place to place unless you have a premises licence for each location from which alcohol sales are made from that vehicle.

As to the location for the premises licence, this needs to be the place where the alcohol is specifically selected following a definite order (be that online or over the phone). Your call centre therefore would not need a licence (unless the goods are being picked from there), but certainly the garage or warehouse from which you dispatched the alcohol would. Such a premises licence would need to have permission for ‘off-sales’ because consumption of the alcohol will take place off those premises when you have delivered it.

If you work in partnership with an existing licensed business, that business would need authorisation for off-sales, and you would have to ensure there were no conditions on the existing premises licence restricting you from carrying out your business as proposed.

Statutory guidance advises that persons who run premises providing ‘alcohol delivery services’ should notify the licensing authority of such a business model in your application for a premises licence. This will ensure the licensing authority and other authorities can properly consider what conditions may be appropriate.

One of the mandatory conditions that would attach to any licence you obtain, would be a requirement to ensure that an age verification policy applies to the premises and that the DPS ensures staff are not only aware of the policy but also applying it. This has a particular impact with remote sales (telephone and online) because you cannot see the purchaser of the alcohol when making the initial sale.

Age verification measures (for example, online age verification) could be used to ensure that alcohol is not sold to any person under 18. You should also consider what steps you could take to ensure age verification takes place before the alcohol is actually served (ie, physically delivered to the customer) to be satisfied the customer is aged 18 or over.

It is recommended that photo ID be checked and if your delivery driver cannot verify age, the delivery will not be made.

The whole process is not necessarily simple and thought must be given to the licensing objectives, particularly that of protection of children from harm.

Related topics Licensing law