Yet, I still regularly get queries as to smaller measures and operators’ obligations in this regard.
For clarity, under the mandatory conditions, smaller measures are: (i) beer or cider: half pint; (ii) gin, rum, vodka or whiskey: 25ml or 35ml (single measures of either one or the other size, not both); (iii) still wine in a glass: 125ml. This requirement does not apply if the drinks being sold or supplied have been made up in advance ready for sale or supply in a securely closed container, eg, beer in pre-sealed bottles.
The mandatory condition requires the ‘responsible person’ — the licence holder, DPS or any other adult authorised by the holder or DPS to ensure the following:
- You must make the smaller measures available at the premises. This does not mean you must only provide smaller measures. Just remember, where you sell beer, cider, specific spirits or wine in other measures, they must only be permitted measures as defined under weights and measures legislation.
- You must display the smaller measures on the premises in your menus, price list or on any other printed material such as a blackboard behind the bar. (Remember that under consumer protection legislation, there is a general obligation to give sufficient information to customers at the point of sale (usually in menus or price lists) so they are not misled, providing all material information for them to make an informed choice, eg, name, brand, measure, price, etc.).
- Where a customer does not specify the quantity of alcohol they want, you must make them aware that the relevant smaller measure is available. The onus is on you and your staff to clear up any confusion before the sale is made. Just to emphasise the point, if your customer comes to the bar and asks for a specific cider, you should ask whether they would like a half pint or a pint, or by indicating to the price list at the bar or the blackboard behind it. Also if someone asks for a glass of wine, you cannot just ask them whether they want a small or large, you should clarify the specific measure they want, either verbally or by reference to your printed material.
- Where you are satisfied the customer is aware of the availability of smaller measures, there is no requirement for you to repeat this every time you serve them. In my view, this applies not only to one-off customers on any given night, but also to your regulars. Nonetheless, in a busy bar with a number of staff serving, the only way to ensure the correct measures are communicated would be to require all staff to ask the question when the customer is not clear about the quantity requested.
It is important you understand and comply with your obligations regarding smaller measures of alcohol. Just remember there is always the possibility that a test purchaser may be in your premises to check whether you and your staff are complying with these and other mandatory conditions (as well as other related legislation such as consumer protection and weights and measures). To breach these obligations would not only be a criminal offence, but in some cases can lead to a review of your premises licence.