There are five new mandatory conditions. A “responsible person” must ensure that the mandatory conditions are complied with. So, if you are in charge of a licensed premise, you need to make all your staff aware of the new conditions. All five conditions will apply to 'on-licensed' premises such as pubs, clubs or hotels, the only condition applicable to off licences will be the requirement to request age identication. The first three conditions will take effect from 6 April 2010:
- a ban on irresponsible promotions,
- a requirement to provide tap water on request to customers,
- a ban on alcohol being directly dispended into a customers’ mouth.
The remaining conditions will come into force on 1 October :
- requiring an age verification policy to be in place
- to make small alcohol measures available
The new conditions will apply automatically to every premises. The Licensing Section has sent out letters to all relevant licensed premises detailing the conditions and providing an annexe to current licences. The conditions will be treated as if they are included in existing licences and over-ride any pre-existing conditions of a similar nature.
Any breach of the new conditions, as with any condition, is a criminal offence, which on conviction would be punishable by a fine of up to £20,000 or 6 months imprisonment.
In most cases, there would also be a licence review and a closure notice under S19 Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001.
These can be defined as a promotion:
“carried on for the purposes of encouraging the sale or supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises in a manner which carries significant risk to the licensing objectives”.
Operators should discuss planned promotions with the police or licensing section of the council if they are in any doubt as to whether this is being breached. It will be the responsibility of each operator to take reasonable steps to ensure staff do not participate in, arrange or carry out irresponsible promotions. Examples of promotions which would be considered irresponsible are as follows:
- Drinking games. Any activity which encourages customers to drink a given amount or as much as they can within a time limit also known as speed drinking competitions. This would not prevent customers from choosing to down a pint or yard of ale, but the pub could not organize a competition. It also doesn’t prevent the manager or staff getting customers to drink up at closing time. Nor does it necessarily prohibit ‘happy hours’ as long as these are not designed to encourage individuals to drink excessively or rapidly.
- Fixed fee or discounted price – for specific groups. No student discount nights. No women drink for free. No drink as much as you can for a tenner. No discounts for under 25s. No half price drinks for Man United supporters. No 10 drinks for £10. No £10 entry fee then all you can drink until midnight. No £5 entry fee and 12 shots.
- Prizes or awards No longer can promotions offer customers a prize or awards inside a time limit of 24 hours. So, no drinks 10 pints between 8 and 12 and receive a bottle of spirits free. No drink 4 pints and get the 5th free.
- Sporting Events No promotions at an event (including TV coverage) based on something happening. So, no half price drinks if England score first. No free drinks if your team fouls first.
- Posters/Flyers No advertising material that condones/encourages/glamorises drunkenness or anti-social behaviour in a positive way.
- No drink dispersed directly into the mouth.
- No activities which involve alcohol being poured directly into the mouth of a customer. Neither must you allow it either. Exceptions when the customer cannot drink without assistance.
Free tap water
You must be able to provide free tap water of a drinkable quality to your customers if reasonably available. A customer is a person who buys goods or services. Requirements on water suppliers are set out in regulations under the Water Industry Act 1991. The Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 20004 sets the minimum standards for water supplied through the consumer’s tap.