Alcohol and the law

Buying and selling alcohol in Scotland

Scotlands laws on alcohol are a mixture of Scottish laws and those that apply across the UK.

Current laws

Laws governing the sale of alcohol are known as licensing laws. This is because you need to have licence to sell alcohol legally anywhere in the UK. At the moment in Scotland, these are granted by Licensing Boards in each local authority area. Local Boards set conditions, such as opening times and what kinds of entertainment can take place on the premises. They have the power to remove licences if any rules are broken.

The law currently governing the sale of alcohol in Scotland is called The Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976.

Scotlands new laws on buying and selling alcohol

Our current laws were written thirty years ago and are considered out of date. The Scottish Parliament has now passed a new law to replace the old one – the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005. This new law will come into effect in 2009.

The new law includes measures to tackle underage drinking, crack down on excessive (binge) drinking and to directly involve communities in licensing decisions for the first time.

Under aged drinking

The Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976 states that a person must be 18 to purchase alcohol. The Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Act 1997 gives police the power to confiscate alcohol from underage drinkers in public places and from anyone suspected of supplying or selling alcohol to a minor. This is a practical measure that can reduce the local impact and nuisance that results from underage drinking