A restaurant owner caught hosting a lock-in for an Old Firm match has recently had his alcohol licence revoked, sparking a conversation about legal responsibilities for personal licensing. The following scenarios have been posed to us on previous occasions where there is uncertainty on what is within the law so we thought that we would share this with you.
Scenario A: At Hogmanay you have decided to close your bar early and host your own private, family party where guests will bring their own alcohol and there will be children present. As it is a private party and alcohol will not be sold, the legal rules with regards to drinking up time and children on the premises no longer apply. Is that correct?
Response: ‘Permitted hours’ previously did not apply when the licence holder was privately entertaining under the Licensing (Scotland) 1976 Act at the holder’s own expense. However, this has since been amended under the Licensing (Scotland) 2005 Act. It is now the case that after the end of licensed hours consuming alcohol, even if it’s a BYOB, is a violation of your licence. Unless there is an advance agreement, which allows for extended hours at Hogmanay you may still need to apply to the licensing board for an extension to your current operating hours to stay within the law.
With regards to children on the premises it’s worth ensuring that your operating policy encompasses the attendance of children and young persons on the premises for the period of the party.
Scenario B: You have had a great business idea – a shop with an off-sales licence next to a busy nightclub is available and you’d like to turn it into a takeaway and off sales. You think it will be fine to sell alcohol to the customers before 10pm with their takeaways and they can return to pick it up later – considering they purchased the alcohol before 10pm it is still legal, isn’t it?
Response: Under the Licensing (Scotland) 2005 Act it is perfectly legal to sell alcohol before 10pm however, to allow alcohol to be taken away from a licensed premises outside of licensed hours is an offence.
The only exemption being that alcohol, granted that it is in a sealed container, can be carried out within 15 minutes of the end of licensed hours. So unless they are removing the purchased alcohol from the premises before 10.15pm then you are not legally permitted to allow them to leave with it.
Scenario C: You have a lot of stock of a particular beer and think you’ve found a loophole for the ban on ‘buy one get one free’ offers: providing a scratch card to customers buying the beer with a complimentary bottle as the prize. As you’re not selling it as a ‘buy one get one free’ deal and there is no guarantee they will win a second surely the law doesn’t apply?
Response: As good as the idea sounds, if the complimentary beer is consumed on the premises, it is in violation of the licensing agreement. The Licensing (Scotland) 2005 Act forbids promotions offering alcohol as a “reward or prize” unless “the alcohol is in a sealed container and consumed off the premises.” So yes they can win a second beer but it must be given to them sealed for consumption off the premises.
Being convicted of breaching the Act could mean being imprisoned for six months or face a fine of up to £20,000 – in some cases both have been applied plus a mandatory review of the premises licence and your own personal licence will be undertaken.
If you are operating licensed premises or have a personal licence then it’s important you truly understand the legal responsibilities as failure to do so will result in you losing your licence or facing hefty fines. It’s really not worth the penalty. For more information on any of the above or any other licensing matter, please contact our solicitors in Glasgow.