Legal top tips: be stringent on sales to minors

By Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Ask for identification: ensure you have a defence against legal prosecution
Ask for identification: ensure you have a defence against legal prosecution

Related tags: Age verification policy, Childbirth

Some of our clients had issues with underage drinkers during the festive period and it is worth reminding ourselves of some of the main points.
  • It is an offence to sell, or knowingly allow the sale, of alcohol to a person who is under the age of 18. Even the exception for beer, wine and cider in relation to
  • table meals being consumed by a 16 or 17-year-old only applies to those forms of alcohol, which must be purchased by an adult for consumption with a meal in a
  • restaurant area.
  • The legal defence is that the seller believed the person to be 18 or over and either used all reasonable steps or precautions to establish an individual’s age or nobody could reasonably have suspected from the individual’s appearance that he was aged under 18. Good evidence of that is if he or she asks for identification and that identification would have convinced a reasonable person the purchaser was old enough.
  • Check the conditions on your licence, which may have restrictions on when and at what age young persons can be on your premises.
  • Any door staff are only your first line of defence for checking ID. Make sure your bar staff are aware of their responsibilities as well.
  • On busy occasions, make sure you increase staff numbers so your bar team has the time to check ID properly (and the bar is sufficiently well lit for them to be able to do so).
  • There is no point having a Challenge 21, 25 or even Challenge 30 policy if you don’t enforce it. Failing to have an age verification policy and one that is practically put in place by the designated premises supervisor is an offence under the mandatory conditions. That condition applies to all licensed premises, and requires that any form of identification accepted by a member of staff must show the bearer’s photograph, date of birth and a holographic or ultraviolet mark.
  • The age verification policy does not have to be in writing but clearly it is sensible for it to be so.

Some tips for checking ID are as follows:

  • Check the ‘Pass’ hologram is flush with the plastic of the card and not stuck on to it.
  • Check the photograph is of the person presenting the card and again not stuck on top.
  • Check the date of birth. A till prompt or updated daily reminder as to the relevant minimum date of birth can be useful.
  • Ensure the card has not in any way been tampered with and is smooth.
  • If you have any doubt then you should refuse service.

Related topics: Licensing law

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