Published: 25 January 2022 by Dominic Lenton
In this episode, licensing Solicitor, Suraj Desor, gives us a guide to home deliveries and what licensing requirements apply to them including the issue of age verification.
Find the transcript below:
Hello, and welcome back to the Poppleston Allen podcast where we discuss licencing topics to help you and also me get a better understanding of what licencing is all about.
In the first podcast of 2022, I’m joined by Suraj Desor, who you may remember from last time, who is a licensing solicitor dealing with all alcohol licensing matters. Suraj is here today to discuss home deliveries and what licensing requirements apply to them.
Hi, Dom. Hello, everyone.
So today, Suraj, you’re here to talk about home delivery and how this ties in with licencing requirements.
As we’ve seen, home deliveries are becoming more prevalent because of lockdowns and everything that happened last year and the year before that.
So, what experiences have Poppleston Allen had as to home deliveries?
Well, you’re quite right Dom. As you know, the pandemic and lockdowns created the necessity for hospitality businesses such as restaurants and pubs to utilise options for takeaways and online ordering and home delivery. And it created an environment for these types of businesses, home delivery businesses to flourish.
In respect of home delivery in particular at Poppleston Allen, we’ve certainly seen a swift rise in work. Existing clients have started to incorporate home delivery options as part of their offer, so if they’ve got a dining in offer, they’ll also look to include a home delivery element or a takeaway element.
We’ve also seen the opening of dark kitchens, which are units not open to the public where food is prepared based on online orders from which it’s then delivered direct to customers at their home. And the rise of grocery fulfilment centres, which effectively and conveniently allow customers to order groceries online and then have them delivered straight to their doorstep.
With many people having got used to the convenience of home deliveries, it does seem like these habits are here to stay post-pandemic, and this continues to be a great sector, with many hospitality operators seeking to take advantage by offering home deliveries.
But as with most things where new and existing businesses are looking to sell alcohol, as well as late night refreshment, which in this case is sale of hot food and drink between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. as part of their home delivery offer, there are licencing requirements that they need to consider.
Yeah, so Suraj, you spoke about licencing requirements for home deliveries, can you just elaborate a bit on what those would be?
Yeah, of course. I mean, firstly, if you want to sell alcohol or late night refreshment as part of your delivery service and you don’t have a premises licence, you will need one which authorises these licensable activities. Your premises licence will need to permit off sales of alcohol, and this is required if you want to allow alcohol sales for takeaway or via delivery. And also, as you’re selling alcohol, you’ll also need to nominate someone as a designated premises supervisor, essentially a manager who has day to day control, who’ll be nominated on your premises licence, and that person would require to have an active and in effect, personal licence.
The premises licence will need to authorise the location of where alcohol is specifically selected for the particular sale as well. So, for example, if a customer contacts your head office to place an order, but the alcohol is actually selected from a separate premises such as a warehouse, it’s that separate premises where the alcohol is specifically selected for the customer. That is the area that needs to be licenced, and that’s where the premises licence would apply to rather than the call centre where orders are taken. In terms of other things to consider, you should also check there are no conditions on your premises licence, if you have one already, that restrict takeaway or delivery and off sales of alcohol or food.
If there are such restrictions, you may need to apply for a variation of the premises licence to change these. And also, where relevant, you should check that there aren’t any restrictions under the planning or your lease as to deliveries.
It’s also worth considering potential for public nuisance, such as noise from delivery drivers operating from the premises, and the effects this this could have on local residents and the neighbourhood. It’s always worth considering measures you can put in place to mitigate this, including where delivery vehicles are parked at the premises and training on driver conduct when picking up and delivering orders, so they mitigate any particular noise and nuisance. For example, if they’re using a vehicle, making sure the vehicle is switched off, they’re parked in an appropriate location, they haven’t got music being played while they’re still running the vehicle, while they’re taking an order, etc. So various ways to mitigate nuisance should certainly be considered.
Also, as part of your delivery or takeaway service, we’ve mentioned this before, if you intend to sell hot food and drink between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., you will require that licensable activity and you’ll need to ensure that the premises is licenced for late night refreshment.
So when you’re submitting a new licence or variation, should you be consulting with anyone?
Yeah, that’s a good point. I mean, we would always recommend consulting with the responsible authorities prior to applying for a new licence or a variation to an existing licence to permit deliveries of alcohol via home delivery or even takeaway.
The government guidance recommends you speak to the local licencing authority if you are running alcohol delivery services so that they can consider whether any conditions may be appropriate and a variation of the premises licence may be required.
What I would say is be mindful that it’s important that you ensure any conditions agreed on your premises licence are operationally workable for you and your business model. And if you’re in any doubt, it’s always best to get advice from licencing experts.
one other thing I suppose I should note is, the government created the Business and Planning Act post-pandemic, which allows certain premises licenced for on sales to also provide off sales, whereas otherwise it wouldn’t have been on the licence.
Now this is for a limited period only, at present until the 30th of September 2022. However, specific conditions on individual premises licence and exemptions may apply, they should be considered. But this is only a temporary permission provided, and if you wanted something more permanent, you would need to seek a variation of your premises licence to add off sales if you don’t already have it on your licence. But that’s just something to bear in mind until at least 30th September 2022.
So, one of the big problems with home deliveries that operators probably do have, is in terms of age verification when taking orders and delivering. So, you don’t want your take away driver to just show up at someone’s house and give alcohol to your ten year old child.
How should operators deal with that?
You’re quite right that the biggest risk linked to deliveries of alcohol is sales to underage customers, and it’s crucial that if you’re an operator looking to offer home deliveries, you need to consider how your business model will address this.
Consider the age verification policy that you have in place, how it will work in practise when it comes to home delivery. There is a mandatory condition attached to premises licences requiring that an age verification policy is in place, and you may have other applicable conditions on your licence as well related to that.
A couple of tips in terms of that, you need to ensure that whoever carries out the deliveries, whether your own staff or third party delivery drivers, they comply with the conditions on the premises licence as the premises licence holder and designated premises supervisor are liable for any breaches of the licence.
Consider age verification measures at the point of order. That means before an order is taken online or over the telephone and also at the point of delivery. So, you may have certain measures put in place if you’ve got a website that verify someone’s age or ask them to provide confirmation that they’re over 18 before they make a purchase of alcohol. So that could be something in terms of a measure that you have in place prior to the order being made online. And in terms of the point of delivery, of course, those that deliver the alcohol to the customer need to check that the person looks over 18 and if they don’t, make sure that they are asked for ID to prove that they are over 18, or whatever your challenge policy may be, you may have challenged 21, for example, or challenge 25.
Your couriers or delivery drivers will have responsibility for checking that age verification takes place, and I’d suggest operators consider training and other steps that may be appropriate to ensure that they can carry out this function properly.
If you use a third party delivery company, just check that you’re satisfied with the company’s age verification policy and the procedures and training they have in place for their curriers.
And if you’re not satisfied, you may want to provide training or guidance or alternatively, look at other delivery companies that maybe meet your satisfaction in terms of having those policies in place.
Thank you for that Suraj. Are there any final thoughts that you have on home delivery. I mean, I’ve noticed that pubs over lockdown we’re doing a lot of alcohol deliveries and some have kept them some haven’t, is it here to stay?
Look, I can see home delivery continuing to expand across the sector and become an integral part of hospitality service in the coming years and generally day to day life for many of us.
I’m sure a lot of people use online grocery shopping at the moment. I mean, I know over the last year and a half, I’ve certainly started using it a lot more. I know I use online delivery and home delivery for various things like my Christmas shopping for example. And I can only see in the future people using home delivery more and more and that won’t be any different for the hospitality sector.
Obviously, the pandemic has had an enormous impact on delivery, and it’s been a lifeline for many operators. And given the widespread use of smartphones and the success of tech brands such as UberEats, Deliveroo, Just Eat, giving people incredible and easy way to order their favourite food and having it delivered direct to their doorstep. And many operators have and will see this as a great way to expand business and attract customers and jump on a bandwagon of this growth sector. I can see this going from strength to strength.
Thank you Suraj, that’s all we have time for today, I’ll stop barking questions at you for now. If you want to seek any advice, you can always contact Suraj directly, he’ll enjoy that as he always does.
Oh, always happy to help.
It’s firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can head to our website popall.co.uk and you can find out his details there. Thank you very much for listening.
September legal round-up on off-sales and changes to temporary event notices (TEN) allowance
TENs increased for 2022 and 2023 and off-sales relaxation to continue until September 2022
Westminster approves amendment Licensing Policy to introduce alcohol delivery policy changes
The changes take effect from October 2021
Update: Westminster publishes licensing consultation seeking to introduce alcohol delivery policy
Consultation documents have now been published
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