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March 2020

The need for “active supervision”

The High Court upheld the decision of the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority to suspend SPL’s off-licence for the unlawful sale of alcohol to an underage person.

The Court found that the employee concerned, while honestly mistaken, did not take all reasonable steps to verify the age of the customer. With regards to the sanction of suspending the off-licence, the Court held that in the circumstances of this case the sanction was justified. It considered that had this been a case where the employee was properly supervised at the time of the incident the Court would have hesitated to impose a sanction. 

The Court further considered that this was an honest error, compounded by an apparent computer systems error, but the absence of active supervision by a duty manager tipped the balance in favour of sanction. The Court concluded that the sale of alcohol to underage persons cannot be left to unqualified or inexperienced employees.