Published: 21 January 2016
Q: I am planning to start an alcohol delivery service taking orders by telephone or online. The alcohol will be despatched from an existing licensed premises (a pub or off-licence) with whom I will share the profits, or alternatively a separate warehouse. Will I need a licence under the Licensing Act for my call centre and are there any other licensing implications?
A: This mode of alcohol sales is becoming increasingly popular. The first thing to remember is that any sale by retail of alcohol to the public will require a premises icence and a Designated Premises Supervisor, that “DPS” needing to have a current Personal Licence. Please note that you cannot sell alcohol from a vehicle that moves from place to place unless you have a premises licence for each location from which alcohol sales are made from that vehicle.
As to the location for the premises licence, this needs to be the place where the alcohol is specifically selected following a definite order (be that online or over the phone). Your call centre therefore would not need a licence (unless the goods are being picked from there), but certainly the garage or warehouse from which you despatched the alcohol would. Such a premises licence would need to have permission for “off-sales” as consumption of the alcohol will of course take place off those premises when you have delivered it. If you work in partnership with an existing licensed business, then again that business would need authorisation for off-sales, and you would have to ensure that there were no conditions on the existing premises licence restricting you from carrying out your business as proposed.
The Statutory Guidance advises that persons who run premises providing “alcohol delivery services” should notify the Licensing Authority of such a business model in your application for a premises licence. This will ensure that the Licensing Authority and other authorities can properly consider what conditions may be appropriate. One of the mandatory conditions that would attach to any licence you obtain would be a requirement to ensure that an age verification policy applies to the premises and that the DPS ensures that staff are not only aware of the Policy but also applying it. This has a particular impact with remote sales (telephone and online) as you cannot see the purchaser of the alcohol when making the initial sale. Age verification measures (for example, online age verification) could be used to ensure that alcohol is not sold to any person under the age of 18. You should also consider carefully what steps you could take to ensure that age verification takes place before the alcohol is actually served (i.e. physically delivered to the customer) to be satisfied that that customer is in fact aged 18 or over. It is recommended that photo ID be checked before any physical delivery, and indeed that your terms and conditions state that if your delivery driver cannot verify at the door that the customer is over 18 that the delivery will not be made.
The whole process is therefore not necessarily simple and a degree of thought must be given to promoting the licensing objectives, particularly that of Protection of Children from Harm.
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