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HMRC internal manual

Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme

Penalties and sanctions: criminal sanctions

There are new criminal sanctions for the following contraventions:

  • Selling, arranging a sale or offering/exposing for sale controlled liquor wholesale without an approval
  • Buying controlled liquor from an unapproved wholesaler.

Both of these offences are “knowledge” offences which means the person committing the offence must have known or had reasonable grounds to suspect they were either trading without approval or buying from an unapproved wholesaler. Further information regarding criminal sanctions is contained in the Criminal Justice Procedures.

If you come across a business that has, for example, traded without approval you should consider the circumstances and whether a criminal sanction is appropriate. (This content has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000)  If a criminal sanction is not appropriate, you should follow the guidance for a civil penalty.

A trader is not liable to a civil behavioural penalty if they have also been convicted of a criminal offence for the same contravention.

The offence of selling/arranging a sale/offering or exposing controlled liquor wholesale without approval came into effect from 1 January 2016.

The offence of buying from an unapproved wholesaler came into effect from 1 April 2017.