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Licensing Act 2003 – Mandatory Conditions – October 2014

The government has recently tabled proposed changes to the mandatory conditions which will appear on all premises licences from (it is expected) 1st October, 2014. These changes are significant in effect and undoubtedly intended to tighten up on what went before and to make enforcement of the conditions easier. Thanks to John Gaunt, Licensing Solicitors for providing these notes.

Irresponsible Promotions

The prohibition on these is tightened up in a number of respects. In the first place it becomes a mandatory requirement to ensure that irresponsible promotions do not take place on premises. The current requirement is to ensure that all reasonable steps only be taken.

Second, the list of irresponsible promotions with which you will be familiar, now will be deemed irresponsible without reference to the previous test as to whether the promotion was designed to or ran the risk of undermining the licensing objectives in three types of promotion. This ancillary test made it much harder, if not almost impossible, for authorities to seek to challenge a promotion, unlike the comparable position in Scotland.

These include games or other activities which require or encourage individuals to drink a quantity of alcohol within a time limit or drink as much alcohol as possible (whether within a time limit or otherwise.)

The promotion which allowed for unlimited or unspecified quantities of alcohol free or for a fixed or discounted fee to the public or to a group defined by a particular characteristic (other than any promotion or discount available to an individual in respect of alcohol for consumption at a table meal) is being altered, in that the table meal exemption is going.

What has gone from this list of irresponsible promotions is a promotion providing free or discounted alcohol in relation to the viewing on the premises of a sporting event, where that provision is dependent on the outcome of a race, competition or other event or process, or the likelihood of anything occurring or not occurring.

For further information: Running Responsible Drinks Promotions

Free tap water is provided on request to customers

There is a limited change here in that the new requirement is to require that free, potable water is provided. It must by potable (not portable, as a previous guidance suggested!) but the rule no longer specifies that it comes from a tap!

Requirement for an age verification policy

All premises must already have to have an age verification policy in place; this requirement is reinforced by the additional obligation now to be imposed that whereas the premises licence holder remains responsible for setting the policy, the designated premises supervisor has the new responsibility for ensuring that the policy is applied within their premises.

Smaller measures of beer, cider, wine and spirits to be available

The changes proposed here have the most direct and immediate impact for operators, for which you will need to forward-plan.

The existing mandatory condition provides that the responsible person must ensure that for on-consumption alcohol is available to customers in the following measures: beer or cider: ½ pint; gin, rum, vodka or whisky: 25ml or 35ml; and still wine in a glass: 125 ml and that customers are made aware of the availability of these measures. This was a weak requirement in terms of delivery.
This is to be amended to provide that such smaller measures are displayed in a menu, price list or other printed material which is available to customers on the premises; and that where a customer does not (in relation to a sale of alcohol) specify the quantity of alcohol to be sold, the customer is made aware that these measures are available.

Operators will need to ensure that all menus, price lists and any other similar printed material references these smaller measures and their availability. There will be reprinting to be done. There will also need to be additional staff training to ensure that where a drink is requested without specifying the measure or amount, the smallest measure is offered. Only recently I was in a pub where I was told that they did not serve wine in a 125ml measure. Not to do so was unlawful before but will be completely “beyond the pale” in the future. This will be fertile ground for possible Trading Standards test purchasing.

Further guidance to support implementation of these revised conditions will be published in advance of the commencement of the Order, although how close to the implementation of these changes remains to be seen.

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