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HMRC internal manual

Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme


The main guidance on forfeiture and seizures is contained in the Criminal Justice Procedures Forfeiture. These procedures apply equally to the AWRS and must be read before reading the guidance below which explains when alcohol may be seized under the AWRS scheme.

CEMA S139(1) provides the legal power to seize goods liable to forfeiture. Section 88E(f) ALDA and regulation 25 of WCLR provides for the AWRS alcohol goods to be liable to forfeiture, whether or not the duty has been paid, for:

  • trading without approval
  • contravention of any condition or restriction imposed on an approval
  • any contravention of the regulations.

Where there has been a breach of the AWRS law for any of the above reasons, any alcohol in the possession, custody or control of the wholesaler which is used or intended to be used for wholesale activity is liable to forfeiture and may be seized. This includes alcohol found on the premises of unapproved businesses, whether or not the duty has been paid.

In the case of a company that is part of an AWRS group, where there has been a contravention as set out above, any dutiable alcohol held for the purposes of carrying out a controlled activity by the group or its individual members is also liable to forfeiture. The AWRS group members are jointly and severally liable for any sanctions or penalties.

Alcohol in the possession of a purchaser who is unable to demonstrate their supplier is approved would also be liable to forfeiture.