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Sale of Alcohol to 16 and 17 Year Olds when Order a Table Meal

Can I refuse a sale?

Q:  A family came in for a meal a week ago to my pub.  The father ordered a bottle of cider for his son when ordering the meal whilst they were sat in the area set aside for dining.  The waitress quite rightly questioned the age of his son to be told he was 16.  I know that a person aged 16 or 17 can drink beer, wine or cider with a meal if ordered and paid for by someone over the age of 18 but it is our policy to refuse any sale where we know the alcohol is going to be consumed by a 16 or 17 year old.  The father became quite rude and insistent that we had to make the sale.  Were we correct in refusing the sale of alcohol to the father?

A:  You are of course quite right that it is legal for any person aged 16 or 17 to drink beer, wine or cider with a table meal in an area set aside for table meals provided it is purchased by somebody over the age of 18.  However, it is entirely up to you as the owner of the pub to decide that it is your policy that no such sales will be made.  In fact a number of operators do so in order to avoid confusion in the minds of staff and therefore make no exception to the requirement that any person must be aged 18 or over to consume alcohol.

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