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Shop refusing alcohol sales to under 21's

  • 25-08-2021 8:26pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 391 ✭✭ Jeremy Sproket


    Just curious about this one.

    I was in a convenience shop recently and purchasing some 0% Erdinger. The chap at the till asked for my ID, I handed over my Swedish ID and he mumbled something and called his manager to see if they could accept it, she examined it and conceded that it was OK.

    The lad apologised for the delay and said that they have an over 21's policy instead of the usual 18's. I was chuffed to be asked because I'm a 28 year old girl 😁

    Anyway, my query is in relation to the shop policy. Under Irish Law, the shop can refuse service as a private business to anyone for any reason except if it falls into the various counts of discrimination.... age being one of them. This age clause specifically does NOT apply t under 18's though. So are the shop actually breaking that discrimination rule by refusing sales to under 21's? From what I can see it's a clear violation of the age discrimination rule.

    If the shop is within their rights to refuse sales to people between the age of 18 and 21 could they refuse to people over 70 legally?

    Your opinions please 😊



«1

Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,631 ✭✭✭ lintdrummer


    Not a legal expert but I think the idea is that they challenge people for ID if they look 21 or younger. I doubt that they would then refuse to sell the alcohol if the person had ID that showed they were 19 for example.



  • Registered Users Posts: 391 ✭✭ Jeremy Sproket


    No it's definitely an over 21's policy.


    I questioned it as I thought it was strange and they said they don't serve under 21's.

    They have a challenge 25 policy whereby they have to ID anyone who appears to be under 25 but they outright refuse business to anyone under 21.


    So my question is whether it's allowed or not and whether or not the equal status act applies. The equal status act forbids discrimination based on age (doesn't apply to those under 18).

    If you say that they're a private business and can refuse service to anyone (and ignore the equal status act) could they refuse service to those over 70, a pregnant customer? A gay man? A married woman?



  • Registered Users Posts: 406 ✭✭ AnRothar


    There is no obligation on the shop to sell you anything.

    The equal status act is not relevant here.



  • Registered Users Posts: 391 ✭✭ Jeremy Sproket


    Thanks for educating us all ! :)

    Still delira I look under 25 though 😍



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  • Registered Users Posts: 20,828 ✭✭✭✭ Strumms


    if a barman asked for ID as they were not sure of your age and if you were legal drinking age, but you have no ID I’d say fair enough.

    if you are of legal age to purchase alcohol, have verifiable proof, say a passport with you... surely it’s discrimination if they refuse you ? Certainly should be.



  • Registered Users Posts: 24,135 ✭✭✭✭ Mrs OBumble




  • Registered Users Posts: 389 ✭✭ HerrKapitan


    ...



  • Registered Users Posts: 20,828 ✭✭✭✭ Strumms


    None that I know, it was common maybe 20 years ago but now it’s illegal. In fact a supermarket was fined €1,000 by the Equality Authority for discrimination on the grounds of age. This was because a kid who was 18 was refused a bottle of spirits on the basis it was only over 21’s for alcohol sales. He had ID.

    i don’t know of any pub anymore who discriminate based on legal age, do you ? Opening themselves up to a hell of a lawsuit.

    if it’s legal for you to buy alcohol you can’t discriminate on age.



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,817 ✭✭✭ Darc19


    A licenced premises may restrict sales of alcohol to people under any age once it exceeds the minimum age of 18. They must have a notice and they must apply it to all customers.

    So in theory, they can say "over 50" only. 😁 (I'll buy it for you then 😁)


    In the USA many places will refuse service if you cannot show ID - even if you are a 50+ old codger like me.



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  • Posts: 0 ✭✭✭ Kaiden Mango Crab


    Couldn't they say they believed he was too drunk to cover themselves?



  • Registered Users Posts: 10,042 ✭✭✭✭ 28064212


    The legislation was posted above, Equal Status Act, 15(4) allows sellers of alcohol to discriminate based on age, even above 18. The case you mention has two issues:

    • The 18 year old wasn't prevented from purchasing alcohol, they were prevented from purchasing spirits. They would have been allowed purchase beer. That puts them outside the situation catered for in the legislation
    • The case was in April 2003 - section 4 wasn't inserted until later that year (possibly even because of that case, although that's just speculation on my part)

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  • Registered Users Posts: 20,828 ✭✭✭✭ Strumms


    Yes, but would there not have to be a legitimate reason to discriminate? If he appeared drunk, abusive, just being under 21 ? Can’t see where that’s allowed. Not being allowed spirits a product readily available...



  • Registered Users Posts: 10,042 ✭✭✭✭ 28064212


    ...the text of the legislation is literally quoted verbatim 10 posts above. It explicitly allows sellers of alcohol to discriminate based on age

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  • Registered Users Posts: 14,792 ✭✭✭✭ Seve OB


    why Do you need ID to buy 0% Beer?

    next they will be asking for ID to buy Coke



  • Registered Users Posts: 10,993 ✭✭✭✭ Dav010




  • Registered Users Posts: 271 ✭✭ Ian OB


    For some reason 0% beer & wine is still classed in law as beer & wine thus meaning you must be over 18 to make the purchase.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,251 ✭✭✭ JustJoe7240


    Still pretty common, I can think of 5 (albeit pre covid) in Dublin City



  • Registered Users Posts: 8,933 ✭✭✭ GM228


    Non-alcoholic drinks are in fact partially alcoholic (very very small amounts - usually between 0.3 and 0.5% ABV) and are still either "beer" or "wine".

    That aside, the so-called non alcoholic drinks still go through the the fermentation/distillation process, they are classed as intoxicating liquor, which includes any beer, wine or other fermented or distilled liquor.



  • Registered Users Posts: 2,018 ✭✭✭ Carfacemandog


    Switch that to a written, stated "no over 40s" policy and they'd likely be forced to close it or close down by the end of the year.



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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,018 ✭✭✭ Carfacemandog


    In the US and Canada though, the lack of any vague notion of critical thought is in full display when buying alcohol. I remember my mam getting refused in one place when we were visiting family there before, despite her being nearly 50 and looking at best, maybe around 40.

    I was 16, looked very young for my age at that point, and walked in about an hour later to buy what I wanted on a very makeshift fake id that may as well have been out together on Art Attack. Got served from the same person, no questions asked.



  • Registered Users Posts: 10,042 ✭✭✭✭ 28064212


    That's because such a policy would be illegal. The legislative exception allows for policies preventing sale to people below a given age (even if that age is above 18). There is no exception for preventing sale to people over a given age, so it would come under the general age discrimination laws

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  • Registered Users Posts: 391 ✭✭ Jeremy Sproket


    Orange juice, lemon juice, even some fruits have naturally occurring alcohols too. Why not ID people for those?

    When people often criticise Ireland's draconian alcohol rules, people often point to stricter countries like where I'm from.

    At least the systembolaget is logical and consistent, it's where alcoholic beverages above (if I remember correctly) 3% are sold and it's the only place these can be sold. They have ridiculous opening hours and most close on Sundays. However, there is nothing in legislation preventing supermarkets from selling low alcohol beer (ie, beer that is less than 3%) at any time of the day or night. It's ludicrous that you have to be over 18 and wait until after 12:30 on a Sunday to buy N/A Erdinger.



  • Registered Users Posts: 18,051 ✭✭✭✭ Del2005



    Can you link the judgement? Maybe they didn't have the 21s sign up and that's why they got done.


    So how come all the supermarkets have their low alcohol products outside the alcohol area?



  • Registered Users Posts: 20,828 ✭✭✭✭ Strumms


    Nope,

    its was a time ago reading it, but if you google the equal status act it should tell you everything re: the law

    they can’t have any sign up that indicates discrimination based on age. If you are of legal age to purchase alcohol, unless you are drunk, causing a danger to yourself or others... you should be able to make the transaction.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,292 ✭✭✭ beachhead


    I know bars that have signs displayed about minimum age to sell alcohol to.It's usually applied to pissheads who come 10 minutes before closing or after closing and trying to stop up their night's drinking done elsewhere.So,the publican sells them what they want then and they go outside smash it on the ground or walk under a car.Bingo,said pub gets the blame..



  • Registered Users Posts: 20,828 ✭✭✭✭ Strumms


    Thats a bit stupid on their behalf , why would you refuse them on the grounds of age when you CAN refuse them on the basis of being intoxicated....potential danger to staff, fellow patrons and themselves .



  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]


    We actually had glasses of wine taken off a table in a restaurant in the USA by a waiter and not one of us is under 30. In fact some do the table were in their 60s. It was all down to no ID.

    I always find it odd that Ireland seems to loon towards the puritanical, dysfunctional approaches of the USA on this topic rather than figure out why we have a binge drinking problem and why it’s much worse than places on the continent with very easy access to alcohol.

    It seems mostly only br a major issue in anglophone countries, some parts of Northern Europe and Russia.



  • Registered Users Posts: 10,042 ✭✭✭✭ 28064212


    News piece about the case: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/off-licence-fined-for-refusing-18-year-old-1.356935

    As I explained above, it's not relevant for two reasons:

    • The 18 year old wasn't prevented from purchasing alcohol, they were prevented from purchasing spirits. They would have been allowed purchase beer. That puts them outside the situation catered for in the legislation
    • The case was in April 2003 - section 4 wasn't inserted until later that year (possibly even because of that case, although that's just speculation on my part)

    With regard to the different treatment of "alcohol-free" products, from what I can see, it appears to be legal to sell them without requiring age verification. Beer is defined in legislation as exceeding 0.5% ABV (Finance Act 2003, Section 73). However, retailers appear to have taken a general policy of treating all alcohol-like products as age-verified products. This is likely the case for two reasons:

    • appearance of responsibility - avoidance of promoting alcohol to under-18s (
    • ease of implementation - rather than having retail staff need to scrutinise every bottle sold to identify whether they're above or below 0.5%, just require ID for all alcohol-like sales

    The Equal Status Act also has a "good faith" exemption in section 15:

    • (2) Action taken in good faith by or on behalf of the holder of a licence or other authorisation which permits the sale of intoxicating liquor, for the sole purpose of ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Licensing Acts, 1833 to 1999, shall not constitute discrimination.

    Even though it may be strictly legal for an under-18 to purchase alcohol-free beer, that doesn't mean a retailer's policy of not selling it is considered illegal. I'm not aware of any cases where such a policy has been challenged.

    EDIT: article saying similar, although from a UK perspective: https://steadydrinker.com/articles/id-alcohol-free-beer/

    Why do you keep repeating this when you've been shown that you're incorrect? Section 15(4) of the Equal Status Act:

    (4) If —

    ( a ) the holder of a licence or other authorisation which permits the sale of intoxicating liquor adopts a policy of refusing to supply intoxicating liquor to any person below a specified age which exceeds 18 years,

    ( b ) a notice setting out the policy is displayed in a conspicuous place in or on the exterior of the premises, and

    ( c ) the policy is implemented in good faith,

    a refusal to serve intoxicating liquor to such a person shall not constitute discrimination on the age ground.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,933 ✭✭✭ GM228


    @28064212 wrote:-

    Beer is defined in legislation as exceeding 0.5% ABV (Finance Act 2003, Section 73).

    Well no it's not really, it is not as simple as saying beer is defined in legislation as exceeding 0.5% ABV, that statement needs to be qualified, it is not a general classification of beer/non-alcoholic beer, rather the 2003 Act states beer which is ≤ 0.5% ABV is exempted from the classification of beer for the purposes of determining the rates of alcohol tax, it applies to laws in relation to excise only, not the sale of alcohol products.


    @28064212 wrote:-

    However, retailers appear to have taken a general policy of treating all alcohol-like products as age-verified products.

    The laws around selling so-called non-alcoholic beers are not covered by the definition of "beer" afforded by the Finance Act 2003 as I stated above, rather they come under the existing intoxicating liquor acts and the licensing acts in relation to the sale of "intoxicating liquor", note what I stated in my previous post:-

    Non-alcoholic drinks are in fact partially alcoholic (very very small amounts - usually between 0.3 and 0.5% ABV) and are still either "beer" or "wine".


    That aside, the so-called non alcoholic drinks still go through the the fermentation/distillation process, they are classed as intoxicating liquor, which includes any beer, wine or other fermented or distilled liquor.

    They are covered by the definition of intoxicating liquor:-

    Intoxicating liquor” means spirits, wine, beer, porter, cider, perry, and sweets, and any fermented, distilled, or spirituous liquor which cannot, according to any law for the time being in force, be legally sold without a license from the Commissioners of Inland Revenue

    The time and age requirements for alcohol applies to intoxicating liquor under the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1927, the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988 and the Licensing Act 1872 respectively, and as you can see intoxicating liquor is not subject to any minimum ABV or contains any alcohol/non-alcohol distinction, it also applies to any beer which is fermented or distilled (a process which non-alcoholic beers still goes through).

    Post edited by GM228 on


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