What does the Act do?

  • Essentially the Act introduces new mandatory conditions for premises and occasional licences, including conditions on minimum pricing of multi-packs, drinks promotions and age verification policies.

When does it come into force?

  • 1 October 2011 (with some minor exceptions).

Do licence holders have to do anything with their licences?

  • No.  The new conditions are automatically incorporated.  The licences do not have to be updated in writing.
  • However, the new conditions must be complied with.  The training of staff in these matters is necessary and it is important that records of this training are retained. So what are these new conditions?

1.         Multi-pack Pricing

  • Packs of alcohol containing two or more alcoholic products will be subject to minimum pricing. 
  • The price of the package as a whole must be equal to or greater than the sum of the individual product.
  • This applies only where each alcoholic product in the package is available for sale on the premises.
  • So where one bottle of wine costs £10, a pack of two bottles must be sold for at least £20.

2.         Variation of Pricing – Off-sales

  • It is currently the case that the price of alcohol may not be varied before the expiry of 72 hours since the price was last varied.
  • The new Act makes it clear that in respect of sales of alcohol for consumption off the premises, this restriction applies only to individual products.  So retailers may vary the price of different products at any time, so long as each individual product maintains the same price for 72 hours. 

3.         Drinks Promotions – Off-sales

  • Drinks promotions which involve the supply of alcohol free of charge or at a reduced price on the purchase of one or more drinks (ie “buy one, get one free” promotions) are currently prohibited in respect of on-sales but not off-sales.  This is set to change on 1 October 2011, in that off-sales cannot involve these types of promotions.
  • On the other hand, off-sales of alcohol currently cannot involve promotions which encourage (or seek to encourage) people to buy larger quantities of alcohol than had been intended.  This will no longer apply to off-sales.

4.         Location of Drinks Promotions – Off-sales

  • Drinks promotions in connection with the premises will now only be able to take place in the alcohol display areas (under the licence) or in a separate tasting room.  Further, branded non-alcoholic products (such as tea towels) may only be displayed in these areas.  This applies to off-sales.
  • In other words, a supermarket will be unable to advertise a drinks promotion out with its designated alcohol display area (or tasting room).

5.         Age Verification Policies – “Challenge 25”

  • All premises must have an age verification policy with the age set at a minimum of 25.  These policies involve retailers having a set policy where any person who looks under the age of 25 (or a higher age if felt necessary) must be challenged to provide identification, proving he or she is at least 18 years of age.