Legal Advice

Freshers Week and student promotions - legal Q&A

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Freshers Week and student promotions - legal Q&A

Related tags Alcoholic beverage License Drink

This week's legal Q&A looks at student promotions ahead of the glut of freshers arriving on campuses up and down the country in the next few weeks.

Q: I manage a pub in a university town and the students are returning for the new term. I am keen to expand my business into the student market, starting with some drinks promotions during Freshers Week. I know the mandatory conditions on my premises licence restrict certain types of promotions but I’m not too clear on what I can and can’t do. Can you help?
A:​ Premises licences that permit the sale of alcohol are subject to mandatory conditions. These conditions do not always physically appear on all premises licences, but must be complied with.

Responsibility for compliance with these conditions lies with the ‘responsible person’, who is the premises licence holder, designated premises supervisor or an adult authorised by either of the above.

The mandatory condition banning irresponsible drinks promotions requires the responsible person to take steps to ensure their staff do not “carry out, arrange or participate in irresponsible promotions”. Taking steps may include staff training, good management practices and controls.

Certain activities are banned, including pouring alcohol directly into the mouth of a customer and drinking games (or other activities) that encourage customers to drink as much alcohol as possible.

Drinks promotions include discounts, such as two-for-ones or happy hours. These are regulated by the mandatory condition. Providing alcohol for a fixed or discounted price in unlimited quantities will only be permitted if it does not carry a significant risk of undermining a licensing objective.

Determining whether a particular promotion would be permitted is subjective and you will need to think about what will happen during the promotion and the likely effect. Government guidance recommends you consider (although this list is not exhaustive) the type of promotion, including the price of the alcohol and how long it will run for, the likely customer base and the type of premises and its history. You may also decide to carry out a risk assessment.

For example, a promotion where students can drink as much as they like for £10 may be irresponsible if there is no limit on how much they can drink. It would be more responsible to specify the amount of alcohol in the price, eg, limit the promotion to three drinks per person.

The mandatory condition bans free or discounted alcohol or anything (including T-shirts, loyalty cards, etc.) as a prize to encourage or reward drinking in a period of 24 hours or less, if it undermines a licensing objective.

You should monitor and control any flyers, posters, online promotion. A further mandatory condition bans the sale of alcohol in association with promotional material on, or in the vicinity of, the premises which can be considered to glamorise antisocial behaviour.

Make sure price promotions comply with the minimum pricing mandatory condition.

If in any doubt, talk to the police, licensing and environmental health officers and take legal advice.

Related topics Licensing law

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