Audrey Junner, partner at Hill Brown Licensing, offers some insights into the dos and don’ts of alcohol delivery
by Audrey Junner
IN 2020 there is very little that isn’t available at the tap of a button. With one swipe you can arrange to have a McDonald’s delivered to your doorstep, or to replenish your kitchen roll supply from Amazon. Re-stocking your alcohol cupboard is no different.
Ordering alcohol remotely and having it delivered to your home is not a new phenomenon. National retailers have been doing it for years. However, things started to shift in 2019 with a significant increase in the number of independent operators entering the delivery market.
While the ‘big four’ supermarkets historically dispatched deliveries from England, making them exempt from Scottish licensing laws, the new trend for deliveries from more local stores means that the delivery of alcohol has piqued the interest of Licensing Boards.
As a result, a variety of different approaches have developed across the country.
In some areas Licensing Boards now insist on variations to incorporate delivery as an ‘activity’ and in other areas strict delivery conditions have been imposed on all licences.
Whether you are introducing an online ordering system, signing up as a Deliveroo partner or simply taking phone orders from elderly or infirm customers there are some key rules you should be aware of.
What does your premises licence have to say before you offer a delivery service?
This very much depends on where you are. One view is that your operating plan does not need to specifically refer to deliveries as an activity. So provided you have off-sales hours listed the right to deliver is implicit.
That view is not shared across the country.
Licensing Boards including Highland, West Dunbartonshire, Scottish Borders, Falkirk and Argyll & Bute require you to state if you are offering a delivery service when applying for a premises licence. If you would like to introduce the service a major variation would be needed before doing so.
What rules do l need to comply with?
Record keeping is a key part of legally providing a delivery service. There are two records which must be maintained in either paper or electronic form:
• A day book which is kept on the premises.
• A delivery book or invoice held by the delivery driver.
Both of these records must be completed before the alcohol is dispatched and detail the following:
• The quantity of alcohol.
• A description of the alcohol.
• The price of the alcohol.
• The name and address of the person receiving the delivery.
It is an offence to make a delivery without these records, to deliver to an address not detailed in the records and to refuse to allow a Police Officer of Licensing Standards Officer to examine the records.
When can the delivery be made?
Alcohol may be ordered and dispatched outwith licensed hours, however it cannot be delivered between 12 midnight and 6am. Payment must be taken within licensed hours. Most operators will limit delivery times to between 10am and 10pm to avoid potentially problematic late night deliveries.
Who can make a delivery?
The delivery must not be delivered by anyone under 18. While an under 18 can make a delivery if they work in the shop and their role includes making deliveries this should be avoided as it carries a significant risk to the operator.
Does challenge 25 apply?
Proof of age should be requested at the point of delivery if the driver has any cause to believe that the person accepting the alcohol is under 25. Where the driver has requested proof of age and it can’t be provided, they must refuse the sale.
Do those making deliveries need to have received alcohol training?
Technically the answer to this is no but it goes without saying that in the event of an underage sale a licenceholder who failed to train their drivers would struggle to establish a defence of due diligence.
If partnering with an online delivery service or using third party couriers you should always satisfy yourself that their drivers are trained to the same standard as those working within your shop.
If possible it is also recommended that you keep records of their training.
Who is responsible for the sale?
As licenceholder you are ultimately responsible for the sale, even where a third party is involved, so your premises licence and reputation could be at risk if you fail to comply.
A recent case in Carlisle where two 13-year-old girls were left hospitalised after receiving an alcohol delivery from a licensed premises highlights the risks for both licenceholders and the public.
The girls made a full recovery but the premises’ ability to sell alcohol was removed following a review and the licenceholder could face criminal charges.
It is important that you treat an alcohol sale made via a delivery service with the same caution as alcohol being sold within a licensed premises.