Legal Q&A

Jack Cummins is one of Scotland’s leading licensing lawyers. Every month he writes on licensing law and answers readers’ questions in SLTN.

Do you have a legal question for Jack Cummins?*

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Click on questions below to show answers.

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[acc_item title=”Q: Do customers have to be seated when drinking in a beer garden? I was in a public house in Glasgow city centre and was advised that by law I have to be seated whilst drinking outside. Can you advise if this is in fact correct?”]

A: There’s no law as such requiring beer garden customers to be seated; but in this case the licence holders were, it seems, complying with a so-called “local condition” attached to the premises licence by the Glasgow board. This provides that, “Where the outdoor area is situated on a public footway, it may only be used for the consumption of alcohol by customers seated at tables”. The condition is designed to address the potential for public nuisance that might be caused by “vertical drinking”.

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[acc_item title=”Q: While the cold weather is upon us, I want to serve hot toddys in takeaway coffee cups. If I serve them with a lid (with small holes in which to drink through like a takeaway coffee) is it legal for people to take these away to drink off the premises?”]

A: As a starting point, if the licence allows the sale of alcohol for consumption off the premises then that activity is permitted by the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. However, that’s not the end of the matter. Most local authorities have published byelaws making it an offence to consume alcohol in “designated” public places. The actual wording of the byelaws varies from area to area. But typically they will provide that an offence is committed by any person who consumes alcohol in a designated place or is found in possession of an open container containing alcohol. So, the lid arrangement might address the latter offence; but customers would have to be warned that drinking their toddy al fresco exposes them to prosecution – and that, I think, makes your idea highly inadvisable.

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*Jack Cummins is unable to enter into personal correspondence on readers’ questions. The advice offered in SLTN is published for information only. No responsibility for loss occasioned by persons acting or refraining from action as a result of material contained on this page or elsewhere in SLTN can be accepted by the author or publisher.