Contact your council

Anumber of cash and carry and delivered wholesalers will be operating without drinks licences once the new Licensing Act 2003 comes into force later this year. By adhering totally to the guidance given within the Act and with the agreement of their local council (the licensing authority) they will be saved the tiresome and costly process of securing a premises licence and personal licences.

Guidance issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) makes this clear in section 192 and a number of wholesalers have already secured agreement with their local licensing authority.

Wholesalers who sell alcohol only to holders of club premises certificates, premises licences, personal licences or to premises users who have temporary events notices for the purpose of making sales authorised by those permissions or notices, or to another trader for the purpose of his trade, will not be required under the new Act to licence their premises or hold personal licences.

With regard to making sales to “another trader” for the purpose of his trade, this could be another wholesaler similarly non-licensed, a caterer who used alcohol as an ingredient in food preparation or a church purchasing fortified wine to make alter wine.

A sale to any other non-licensed business or individual would be considered “sale by retail” and a full premises license and personal licences must be obtained. A business buying Christmas gifts, a school association or drama group buying for a supper night, an individual buying for a wedding, even purchases made by members of staff are all regarded as “a sale by retail”.

Given that most cash and carries are happy to sell drink without restriction to their entire customer base or operate as membership clubs offering public access, they have no option but to secure the necessary licences to continue trading as they do now. In this case they must complete their application for the new licences by August 6.

One of the much discussed licensing issues is the interpretation of section 19 (3) by some licensing authorities that the sale of alcohol can only take place when a personal licence holder is on the premises. On being challenged, DCMS has written a letter to the Association of Convenience Stores (and widely circulated its contents to local authorities) which indicates that this does not mean that a personal licence holder must be present at all times when alcohol is sold or that separate authorisation must be given for each sale, and it does not consider that “authorisation” implies direct supervision of each sale. However, this and other issues still remain open to local interpretation by each authority on the basis of its legal advice.

If wholesalers have not already made contact with their local licensing authority then they are urged to do so without any further delay.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport Licensing Implementation Communications Team operates from

2-4, Cockspur Street, London, SW1Y 5DH
T: 020 7211 6060
F: 020 7211 6464

Extract from the Licensing Act 2003

The wholesale of alcohol to the general public was not licensable prior to the coming into force of the 2003 Act. Licensing authorities will want to have particular regard to the definition of “sale by retail” given in section 192 of the 2003 Act. A sale otherwise made to a member of the general public in wholesale quantities is now a licensable activity and subject to the provisions of the act.

Extract from ‘Guidance issued under section 192.
192 Meaning of “sale by retail”
(1) For the purposes of this Act “sale by retail”, in relation to any alcohol, means a sale of alcohol to any person, other than a sale of alcohol that-
(a) is within subsection (2)below,
(b) is made from premises owned by the person making the sale, or occupied by him under a lease to which the provisions of Part 2 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (c.56) (security of tenure) apply, and
(c) is made for consumption off the premises.
(2) A sale of alcohol is within this subsection if it is-
(a) to a trader for the purposes of his trade,
(b) to a club, which holds a club premises certificate, for the purposes of that club,
(c) to the holder of a personal licence for the purpose of making sales authorised by a premises licence,
(d) to the holder of a premises licence for the purpose of making sales authorised by that licence, or
(e) to the premises user in relation to a temporary event notice for the purpose of making sales authorised by that notice.

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