Alcohol Licensing Law (Scotland)

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jim360 | 00:25 Sun 14th Dec 2014 | Law
74 Answers
Hi all,

There have been a few incidents where I've been somewhat puzzled as to what the law actually says about alcohol purchasing. In particular, what surprises me is why I seem to need proof of age when (a) I'm rather older than 18, and indeed 25 which is nominally the cut-off point. Presumably I still retain my youthful good looks... and (b) I never actually buy alcohol anyway. It seems totally nonsensical that I should need to provide proof that I'm over 18 when the only drink I ever buy is orange juice.

In a similar and totally bizarre incident, I once was visiting my friend in Oxford, and she was attempting to buy a bottle of wine (for formal dinner, perhaps) the night after. When I was not going to be there. She had ID, and was the one making the purchase. I did not, and despite not being involved in the transaction in any way, the shop assistant refused the purchase and she had to buy the bottle later.

Seriously, what? It was my understanding that in England, there was no prohibition on people drinking alcohol in private, so long as they were over the age of 5. In Scotland this may not be the case, but on the other hand there are no grounds to presume that someone buying orange juice is trying to sneak a bit of alcohol in on the side.

There is an obvious answer to this, I suppose, in that I could just carry ID (possibly in the form of a provisional drivers license), but the whole situation is totally stupid. Is there a legal requirement to check everyone's age, regardless of the drink they are buying, or is it just certain bartenders being pig-headed?


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Not sure if this has been posted before: In October 2011, the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005 was amended by the introduction of a new mandatory condition for all premises licences and occasional licences. This provides that there must be an age verification policy in relation to the sale of alcohol on the premises. The law has set a minimum age of 25 years for...
10:44 Sun 14th Dec 2014
I believe mothers have been refused shopping with the kids. Country's gone mad.
Must be the portrait you keep in the attic !

Know what you mean though seems ridiculous at times . I have heard ladies clearly in their 70's being asked in ASDA...
Yes Jim, in Scotland the barman/licencee can be fined very heavily and lose his licence if found guilty of supplying alcohol to anyone under-age.
You think that's mad? What about the 92 year old bloke who got refused service as he had no proof of age?
We've become a jobsworth's paradise.
Question Author
Yes, but this is precisely my point: he's not supplying alcohol to anyone underage, because I don't buy alcohol! Nor is there any reason to assume that any of my friends will supply me with a drink.
The bar person/shopkeeper will have been warned that it is not unknown for someone under age to get someone else to purchase the alcohol on their behalf.
Question Author
That's as may be, but since we have no concept in this country, legally, of pre-crime, it seems wrong to assume that an offence will be committed and treat me as a potential criminal.

As far as I can tell, the law only asks that if someone is attempting to purchase alcohol then one should be sure that they are over 18 and, if there is doubt, then you should ask for ID. Merely being in the premises doesn't look to me like reasonable grounds to suspect that they may be attempting to drink alcohol.

I'm wanting to know if my legal understanding is correct, or not (it very possibly isn't), but regardless it's a sad state of affairs when you need to prove you are overage without having any intention whatsoever to drink alcohol. I can barely touch the stuff.
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Question Author
It comes up too rarely for me to carry the only form of ID I currently have, namely my passport, to be worth the risk of losing it (which is a pretty high risk). I don't have a driver's licence, provisional or otherwise, currently, and I'm sure as heck not carrying my birth certificate about. To the best of my knowledge this has come up at most five times in four years, so it's not necessarily a huge problem, but it is completely irritating when it does happen.
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I am not a lawyer Jim,but the seller doesn't know that you do not drink,or smoke tobacco for that matter.

All I do know is that a lot of pressure is placed on the vendors,the penalties are extremely severe and therefore they are ultra cautious ,so who can really blame them.
Question Author
Looks like I might be able to get out of it if I order some chips at the same time...

//(4)A person other than a child or young person who knowingly buys or attempts to buy alcohol—
(a)on behalf of a child or young person, or
(b)for consumption on relevant premises by a child or young person,commits an offence.
(5)Subsection (4)(b) does not apply to the buying of beer, wine, cider or perry for consumption by a young person along with a meal supplied on relevant premises. //

Now I just need to work out what relevant premises are. I'm assuming it means "the pub".

I am on my Kindle so I find searching for stuff on AB impossible. There was a recent question about serving alcohol with meals in Law (I think). There was some 'debate' over it. I can't find it but it was in the last few months.

I will have a look, but I need sleep.

Found it - must be a record

Have fun
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I think it was a discussion about a) what constituted a meal. and b)where on the premises it was eaten. A seated meal or one taken standing at a bar.

Not too sure of the conclusions reached though.
Question Author
Yes, divebuddy, as on occasion I have not been able to buy even orange juice without ID -- or, alternately, someone else has been unable to buy their own booze because I have no ID. So the lack of booze doesn't affect anything, and I apparently sometimes need ID anyway.

The exchange yesterday was, pretty much, like this: "Orange juice please." "Can I see some ID?" "For orange juice?!"... in the end, the bartender allowed me to stay in the pub and drink my OJ, but not without a bit of a fuss and with some reluctance.
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