Legal advice

How to deal with the customer who has had too much

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Come Christmas, there are bound to be customers that have indulged a bit too much
Come Christmas, there are bound to be customers that have indulged a bit too much

Related tags: Festive season, Alcoholic beverage

I know that you might have only just packed away your Halloween costumes but, as frightening as it may seem, Christmas is now just a few short weeks away.

The festive season, which last year saw people making an estimated 165 million trips to bars, pubs and clubs in December, is vital to the trade.

And it goes without saying that during the party season some people might indulge in the odd glass or two more than they usually would.

With this in mind – and the lack of clear guidance in assessing whether people have had too much to drink – we thought it would be helpful to provide some basic advice on what you can put in place to avoid unwittingly serving a customer who may be drunk.

The crucial thing here, like so much in the licenced trade, is training. Your bar staff and door supervisors should be trained so that they:

  • Can spot the signs of someone who is drunk and trying to enter your premises and/or get served – signs include slurred speech, glazed eyes or being unsteady on their feet.
  • Are aware that if a customer appears to be drunk then they should not be admitted to your premises and/or should be refused service. In reality, and particularly when you are busy, it can be difficult to tell. So if your teams suspects someone is drunk, but are unsure, it is usually best to err on the side of caution and refuse entry and/or service.
  • Are aware of the need to monitor customers who have already been admitted to the premises and/or previously been served. It may well be that when they arrived they appeared fine, but then they have later become drunk. This can happen if they have consumed a large quantity of alcohol just before entering your premises, but this didn’t take effect until after they had been served.
  • Do not allow a customer to purchase drinks for someone else who is drunk (as this is a separate offence) and if they suspect someone is doing this, they should refuse service.
  • Do not encourage customers to drink large quantities of alcohol – this could be by way of drinks promotions. Your staff should be aware of the mandatory conditions in relation to the availability of small measures for beer, certain spirits and wine.

Related topics: Licensing law, Health & safety

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