Irresponsible Drinks Promotions

Published: 8 November 2012

In these difficult trading times many clubs and bars like to offer cheap drinks offers in order to boost sales.

However such promotions have been outlawed (if they are “irresponsible”)  and if you flout the rules your business could find itself facing a review of its premises licence resulting in reduced hours and more restrictions on your licence.

What is classed as “irresponsible”?

An irresponsible drinks promotion is one that encourages the sale of alcohol for consumption (on the premises, not off) in a manner which carries a significant risk of leading to crime and disorder, prejudice to public safety, public nuisance or harm to children.  These are known as the 4 licensing objectives.

The following licensing condition now applies to all premises licences that authorise the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises:

  • The responsible person shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that staff on relevant premises do not carry out, arrange or participate in any irresponsible promotions in relation to the premises.
  • In this paragraph, an irresponsible promotion means any one or more of the following activities, or substantially similar activities, carried on for the purpose of encouraging the sale of supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises in a manner which carries a significant risk or leading or contributing to crime and disorder, prejudice to public safety, public nuisance, or harm to children:
  • games or other activities which require or encourage or are designed to require or encourage, individuals to
  • drink a quantity of alcohol within a time limit (other than to drink alcohol sold or supplied on the premises before the cessation of the period in which the responsible person is authorised to sell or supply alcohol or
  • drink as much alcohol as possible (whether within a time limit or otherwise)
  • Provision of unlimited or unspecified quantities of alcohol free or for a fixed or discounted fee to the public or to a group defined by a particular characteristic (other than any promotion or discount available to an individual in respect of alcohol for consumption at a table meal, as defined in section 159 of the Licensing Act)
  • Provision of free or discounted alcohol or any other thing as a prize to encourage or reward the purchase and consumption of alcohol over a period of 24 hours or less
  • Provision of free or discounted alcohol in relation to the viewing on the premises of a sporting event, where that provision is dependent on
  • The outcome of a race, competition or other event or process or
  • The likelihood of anything occurring or not occurring
  • Selling or supplying alcohol in association with promotional posters or flyers on, or in the vicinity of, the premises which can reasonably be considered to condone, encourage or glamorise anti-social behaviour or to refer to the effects of drunkenness in any favourable manner.

So there you have it. The above condition was imposed by the Government and was brought into effect in April 2010.

Guidance on cheap drinks promotions.

This condition prevents drinking games, large quantities of alcohol for free or at a fixed or discounted price.

Examples of promotions that must cease are:

  • women drink for free;
  • half price drinks for under 25s;
  • discount nights for students;
  • cheap drinks for fans of a specific sporting team;
  • half price drinks when England scores a goal;
  • free drink if your team wins;
  • all you can drink for £10;
  • pay £5 entry and then drink up to 12 shots;
  • 10 pints for £10;
  • pay your entry fee then drink free until 10pm.
  • drink 4 pints get the 5th for free

You are no longer allowed to run promotions that make a customer drink a certain amount of alcohol in order to get a prize or reward inside a time limit of less than 24 hours.

You cannot use materials or signs on or near to your premises to advertise promotions if they condone, encourage or glamorise anti-social behaviour or refer to getting alcohol in any positive way.

This condition does not ban all discounting of alcohol and operators will only fall foul of this condition if they are promoted and organised in an irresponsible way.

If you are in any doubt please seek our advice before you organise a specific promotion. To instruct us to make an application on your behalf, by click here.  if you wish to ask us any question about licensing law or issues that you are having with your (or someone else's) licensed premises, please click here.

For more information contact Maria Guida, Licensing partner at Fletcher day by telephone: Licensing Services – 0207 632 1432 or by email: maria@fletcherday.co.uk

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.