25th January 2011

Pints by Text

The Scottish Legal Perspective:

I read with interest Peter Coulson’s well considered article re the above and would like to advise on the law in Scotland.

As Peter rightly suggests there is no actual way for persons offering alcohol for sale over the internet, by phone or other remote means  to ensure the age of the would be purchaser. This is true whether the transaction is for alcohol to be delivered to someone’s home or for vouchers to be utilised in a venue at a later date.

If the alcohol is to be delivered from a Scottish base to a Scottish domestic dwelling there are specific rules which have to be followed.

The alcohol which is the subject of the transaction has to be entered into a day book and a delivery book or invoice  by the seller. The seller has to  describe the goods e.g 12 bottles of Bonkers Shiraz and note the quantity, the price and the name and address of the person to whom it is to be delivered. There is no reason why an alternative name and address cannot be given in the day book, e.g. the local post office, shop or even a neighbour if the person ordering the wine can’t be present to accept the delivery.

Further in Scotland when alcohol has been dispatched from warehouse premises or other licensed premises within Scotland to domestic premises in Scotland it is an offence to deliver that alcohol to a person under the age of 18. The driver needs to check. I suggest that in the interests of safety the transport companies adopt Challenge 25.

If the driver believes the person offering to take delivery of the alcohol is under 25 the driver  MUST check the age of the person by asking to see ID, being one of the 3 following documents: –

  1. a current passport
  2. a current European photo driver’s licence
  3. a current Young Scot, Citizens Card or other age ID card with a PASS hologram – not matriculation cards
  4. if the  If the driver does not believe the ID is accurate he must refuse to deliver the alcohol and should keep a note of the reason for his decision e.g. thought person under 18

Although not against the law best practice would suggest that the alcohol would have to be delivered to a person rather than left at random on the site. How else would the seller know the goods had been delivered if no signature was obtained.

As for vouchers being purchased to enable the build up of credit for a night out. I do not see anything wrong with this. Obviously alcohol could not be sold to under 18s whether or not they had paid in advance. If persons purporting to be 18 came to the bar of a pub or club or other premises and asked to redeem the vouchers for alcohol staff would require to undertake all the normal precautions to ascertain their age. Challenge 25 will be compulsory in Scotland as from 1 October 2011 unless we have a legislative change. Anyone offering vouchers would be advised to put a note on their web site that vouchers will not be redeemed for alcohol and monies may be lost unless voucher holders can prove they are over 18 at point of delivery. The point of sale is irrelevant in Scotland for these purposes.

Following this fairly simple advice should prevent problems for the licensee in Scotland and if adopted south of the border for our English and Welsh cousins.

Janet Hood
Accredited Liquor Licensing Specialist

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