Action needed on underage sales

Under 18s purchasing alcohol should be pursued, operator says

• Prohibition was originally fined £1000 for serving two underage teenagers.

By Dave Hunter

AN Aberdeen-based pub and bar operator has argued there should be greater legal repercussions for buying alcohol underage, after his company won an appeal case against a conviction for serving underage teenagers.

The Epic Group was convicted last year in Aberdeen Justice of the Peace Court for serving alcohol to two underage people at its Prohibition bar on Langstane Place, and was fined £1000.
At the time the company had lodged a defence of due diligence, arguing that all efforts had been made, through staff training and the implementation of Challenge 25, to prevent underage sales. However, the defence was rejected.
Late last month the conviction was overturned by appeal judges.
Speaking to SLTN, Mike Wilson of Epic Group said there should be tougher measures introduced for those breaking the law by purchasing alcohol before they are 18.
“I think it’s about time that the victim of a crime should be protected, and action taken against the instigator – ie these people who are under 18 going into licensed premises,” he said.
“These days there’s not many licensees that turn a blind eye to underage people going into their licensed premises.
“Rather than treating these people as witnesses, they [the authorities] should be approaching the licensed premises and asking them to be witnesses.
“Everyone knows what the laws are – from our door staff to [underage teenagers], who know they’re not allowed into licensed premises until they’re 18.”
Callum Anderson, a lawyer with Levy & McRae, who represented Epic, said the due diligence defence had been rejected in the original case “for no reason anybody could understand”.
“In the course of the trial there was no step that came out that Epic could have taken that they didn’t take,” he said.
Wilson added: “We have systems in place to abide by the Licensing Scotland Act.
“Staff are trained in the Licensing Scotland Act, we employ registered door stewards, so from our perspective we had everything in place that a well run licensed unit should have in place.”