Supplying Champagne is it illegal?
The NAWCP is aware that Wedding Car Hire clients are often offered a glass of wine or champagne at no extra cost, i.e. as a complimentary offer, to celebrate the occasion while in the wedding car.
Whilst it is understood that this is a well-intentioned offer and indeed, a traditional part of the wedding day, it is also against the law if you do not have a licence to supply alcohol. Wedding car operators beware, offering champagne or any alcoholic beverage even on a ‘complimentary, free, gratis or courtesy basis’ is legally defined as ‘supplying’.
Supplying alcohol to customers without a licence is a breach of section 136 of the Licensing Act and is a criminal offence.
Our understanding is that if anyone is caught suppling alcohol without a licence, they could potentially face a £20,000 fine and/or six months imprisonment for the business owner.
We also understand that some within our industry think they can get around the law by telling their clients that, if asked, they should say that they supplied the champagne and not the hire company. We sincerely hope that none of our members are suggesting this as it is highly illegal and would cause the client very serious legal problems if discovered.
We are aware that Staffordshire police has recently highlighted this issue regarding other industries and will be implementing measures to ensure the law is upheld. We judge that other police forces and authorities in the UK will also take note and may well implement their own measures to ensure compliance with the Licensing Act for all industries, including the wedding car industry. NAWCP advice is not to provide alcohol, even on a so called complimentary basis, to your customers. However, as an alternative, we are aware that some wedding car business offer a ‘Champagne Service’ whereby the customer purchases the champagne and asks the wedding car provider to serve it at the appropriate time. Otherwise, if wedding car operators do wish to continue the practice of supplying ‘complimentary’ champagne, they should contact their local authorities requesting the appropriate licence.
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