The Government is streamlining and refocusing the mandatory conditions which apply to all premises licences and club premises certificates (CPCs) from 1 October 2014. This has received little fanfare and the Home Office only released the Guidance on the new provisions during September leaving little time to prepare. However, premises licence holders and Designated Premises Supervisors (DPSs) who are already operating responsibly should find the new measures relatively straightforward to adopt.

So what’s changing?

The six current mandatory conditions are being streamlined into five but the key themes remain. The three principal changes are to tighten up the running of promotions involving alcohol; to make the existing conditions easier to understand; and to confirm who is responsible for compliance.

What do I need to do?

Provision of free drinking water is straightforward. The Guidance notes that this only has to be available on request but it is good practice to make free drinking water generally available.

Age verification - as a minimum you must ensure that anyone buying alcohol (on and off sales) is over 18, although the use of a ‘Challenge 21’ or ‘Challenge 25’ continues to be best practice. Remember that ID is only acceptable if it carries (a) a photograph (b) the customer’s date of birth and (c) a hologram/UV mark. The responsibility to have a policy lies with the premises licence holder but the new conditions make the DPS explicitly responsible for ensuring the age verification procedures are being implemented. It obviously remains the responsibility of the person selling each drink to ensure they are seeking ID as appropriate in the circumstances.

Smaller drinks measures: beer must be available in half pints (unless sold in bottles), wine in 125ml measures and spirits in 25/35 ml measures. The Guidance makes clear that this should be obvious from menus and price lists and, if the customer does not specifically order a size of drink, they must be ‘made aware’ of all the available measures.

If you are planning a promotion, consider it carefully. Certain promotions are simply banned, including drinking games, dispensing alcohol into the mouth, and posters/adverts which ‘can be reasonably considered to condone, encourage or glamorise antisocial behaviour or refer to drunkenness favourably.’ Other promotions are permitted only where they would cause no significant risk to the licensing objectives. This includes rewards, discounts and provision of free alcohol. The history of the premises, the number of customers, security and the length of the promotion will all be relevant factors in considering the risk. If you are uncertain, it is worth seeking legal advice or consulting your licensing officer before launching a promotion.

Who is responsible?

Compliance with the mandatory conditions remains the responsibility of the premises licence holder, together with the DPS and, in respect of age verification policies, the responsibility of anyone selling alcohol. The Guidance has been clearly written and we would encourage you to download your own copy.