The Government has been urged to clarify its proposed changes to the new mandatory code for licensed operators after concerns were raised they would be overly burdensome.
Among the Mandatory Licensing Conditions, which are effectively additions to the Licensing Act 2003, are a ban on "irresponsible" promotions, free tap water for customers, a new requirement to ask drinkers who appear to be under age to provide photo ID, and a requirement to provide small measures.
Three of the conditions are expected to become law on 6 April this year, provided they are not opposed by MPs, with the final two - the new requirements on age verification and smaller measures - coming into force in October.
Speaking ahead of a Parliamentary debate on the changes, which begins today, Jeremy Allen, partner at Poppleston Allen, said the Government "has got it wrong" and warned that many of the changes would create real difficulty for operators.
The condition that has caused the most concern is the requirement for pub staff to demand ID from drinkers if they appear younger than 18 (or such an age specified in the policy),
"If the words in brackets remain then I have no doubt that the condition will be breached if (staff) fail to challenge under-21s or under-25s dependent upon the policy adopted," Allen said.
"The Government can simply take out the words in brackets and it ceases to be a problem. Leaving these words in raises the risk that a review of the licence could follow if the police or local authority take 22- or 23-year olds into the premises and find that they are not challenged."
Allen also warned that the conditions are worded so as to allow for a number of alternative interpretations which could lead to expensive difficulties in the future.
By Daniel Thomas
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