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BII Licensing Reminder: staying within the law at Christmas

Christmas is a time for your customers to let their hair down and enjoy themselves - but without forgetting your responsibilities to uphold the law...

As advent begins and Christmas party season moves into full swing, it is worth running through some reminders with your team to ensure that the festivities don’t draw the unwanted attention of the Licensing Authority or the Police – both of which will no doubt be on high alert as the party season begins.

Be as fool-proof as you can be in terms of making sure that your staff are fully aware of their responsibilities under the Licensing Act 2003. 

Selling to a customer who is intoxicated

It is of course an offence for staff to sell alcohol to anyone who is already intoxicated.  There is no definition of intoxication, but there are obviously clear signs for staff to look for.  If there is any doubt in the minds of your staff as to whether somebody is intoxicated or not, then they should refuse that person service.  Your staff should also refuse to serve anyone if they believe that they are going to be passing the alcohol to somebody who themselves is intoxicated.  Whilst it is not a criminal offence for staff to make such a sale, it is only likely to lead to trouble.  It is little known that the person actually buying the alcohol for somebody who is already intoxicated, is themselves committing an offence.

Large orders

Ensure your staff are trained to watch out for large orders made by customers who may be then handing them out to other people.  It could be that it is a large order between a very small number of people, or a large order which is going to be given to people who are themselves already the worse for wear.

Age checks

Ensure that your barstaff are aware that simply because a customer has come in past any doorstaff you may have, does not mean that they are either fit to be served or, indeed, that they are over 18.  The barstaffs’ responsibilities are not abrogated by virtue of the fact a customer has already been “vetted” by the security on the door. So be prepared and undertake additional training on both ensuring intoxicated persons are not served alcohol, and ensuring that no person who is under 18 is sold alcohol.  You will almost certainly have adopted a Challenge 21 or Challenge 25 policy, and you need to make sure that policy is further instilled in the staff.

Refresher training

It can be very easy to let these things slip through the net at busy times, but I would suggest that refresher training is undertaken now, if you have not already undertaken any.  Ensure that you keep a record of the training that is provided.  It is always sensible for somebody who is a Personal Licence Holder to deliver the training.  Ensure that the training documents are to hand and can be easily found and passed onto the authorities should the need arise.

Refusals log

Keep a refusals log behind the bar, and make sure that any refusals of alcohol sales are entered into it.  Monitor the log book to ensure that it is being completed, and also to check whether staff members are making entries.  It may well be a tell-tale sign if one or two members of staff never have any entries in the refusal book.

Finally, enjoy Christmas, make sure your customers enjoy it, but don’t let your customers enjoy themselves at the expense of your licence!


BII Members can call our 24/7 licensing helpline for advice on this issue, as well as any other legal, HR or licensing queries.