RRAI Sanctions-policy

SANCTIONS-POLICY AGAINST MEMBER GROUPS OR STORES THAT ARE IN BREACH OF THE R.R.A.I. CODE OF PRACTICE
 

1.     DEFINITIONS:

In this document -

The term “Code of Practice” shall encompass the RRAI code of practice and its explanatory guidelines, and the RRAI’s advertising rules (which extend beyond the literal wording of the code and its explanatory guidelines); and

The term “serious breach” is restricted to breaches relating to: 

(a)  the in-store merchandising or display of alcohol-products, and 

(b)  the advertising of alcohol-products,

and excludes breaches relating to in-store code-documentation.

Examples of what constitutes a “serious breach” include but are not limited to the following:

(a)     having more than one display-area for alcohol-products on the shop-floor (although alcohol-products can in addition be displayed behind the shop-counter, for security reasons, but not in a shop-window); 

(b)     displaying alcohol-products directly opposite or facing other beverages or food-products, whereby customers cannot get access to those other beverages or food-products without passing through or by alcohol-products (although the “as far as possible” qualification may apply in limited circumstances)

(c)     displaying alcohol-products directly adjacent to other beverages or food-products (again, the “as far as possible” qualification may apply in limited circumstances.  In addition, the display of alcohol-products back-to-back with other beverages or food-products, or at ninety degrees to other beverages or food-products, can be acceptable);

(d)     in larger stores with a net retail area of over 4,000 square feet / 372 square metres, displaying alcohol-products within 0.8m of other beverages or food products along a wall, aisle, or row of shelving (once again, the “as far as possible” qualification may apply in limited circumstances, and the display of alcohol-products back-to-back with other beverages or food-products, or at ninety degrees to other beverages or food-products, can be acceptable.);

(e)     the cross-merchandising of alcohol-products with other beverages or with food-products;

(f)     displaying an advertisement for any alcohol-products in the shop-window or at an internal location whereby it is intended to be seen from outside the store;

(g)     placing an advertisement in a newspaper, where the amount of space allocated to alcohol-products represents more than twenty-five per cent of the total core-advertising space allocated to products within that advertisement – e.g. placing an alcohol-only advertisement in a newspaper; and

(h)     placing an advertisement on radio or television, where the amount of time allocated to alcohol-products represents more than twenty-five per cent of the net time available for products featured within that advertisement – e.g. placing an alcohol-only advertisement with a radio station. As the minimum practical advertising slot for alcohol-products within a broadcast-advertisement is three seconds, the timing restrictions will not apply below this three-second threshold.

2.      UPON WHOM MAY SANCTIONS BE IMPOSED, AND IN WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES?

2.1    Distinction between different types of member:

A distinction is to be drawn between:

(a)     Member Groups with direct managerial control over their mixed trading stores; and

(b)     Member Groups made up of independently-operated mixed trading stores, where the Member Groups in question do not have direct managerial control over the stores concerned.

2.2     Member Groups with direct managerial control over their mixed trading stores:

The policy is to impose sanctions against any Member Group with direct managerial control over their mixed trading stores in any of the following cases:

(a)     Where a Member Group (or any of its stores) commits persistent and/or repeated serious breaches of the Code of Practice over a period of time. The bona fides of the Member Group or store(s) in question will be taken into account; or 

(b)     Where a Member Group engages in a systemic serious breach of the Code of Practice across a significant number of its stores in a concentrated period, typically during a holiday-weekend or holiday-period; or 

(c)     Where a Member Group fails to pay its subscription due to the RRAI in full by the absolute cut-off date agreed by the Board in any given year.

2.3     Member Groups made up of independently operated mixed trading stores:

2.3.1     Sanctions against an individual mixed trading store 

Where an independently-operated mixed trading store (within a Member Group) commits persistent and/or repeated serious breaches of the Code of Practice over a period of time, the policy is to impose sanctions against the store itself. The bona fides of the store in question will be taken into account.

2.3.2     Sanctions against a Member Group

The policy is to impose sanctions against a Member Group made up of independently-operated mixed trading stores in any of the following cases:

(a)     Where the number of stores, within a Member Group, that commit persistent and/or repeated serious breaches of the Code of Practice over a period of time represents two per cent (2%) or more of that Member Group’s total number of mixed trading stores. The bona fides of the Member Group in question will be taken into account; or

(b)     Where a systemic serious breach of the Code of Practice occurs across a significant number of a Member Group’s mixed trading stores in a concentrated period, typically during a holiday-weekend or holiday-period; or

(c)     Where a Member Group fails to pay its subscription due to the RRAI in full by the absolute cut-off date agreed by the Board in any given year. 

3.     WHAT SANCTIONS MAY BE IMPOSED?

3.1     Debt-recovery proceedings:

Where a Member Group fails to pay its due subscription in full by the absolute cut-off date agreed by the Board in any given year, the Chairperson may write a formal letter to that member indicating that legal proceedings will commence if full payment is not received by the RRAI within a certain time-frame.

Should the subscription or any portion thereof remain unpaid after the deadline set out in the Chairperson’s letter, legal proceedings may be instigated against the Member Group concerned for the recovery of the lawful debt due to the RRAI.

The RRAI may also seek to recover its costs for any such legal proceedings from the Member Group against whom the proceedings are taken.

3.2     Expulsion of a non-compliant Member Group, and removal of their representative(s) from the Board of Directors:

The RRAI Board may consider expelling any Member Group for serious breaches of the Code of Practice under headings 2.2 and 2.3.2 above.

Under Article 5 of the Articles of Association of Responsible Retailing of Alcohol in Ireland Limited (“the Company”, and/or “the RRAI”), the membership of any Member may be terminated at the Directors’ discretion. Any decision to terminate a membership is subject to the voting requirements set out in Article 61 of the Articles of Association.

Article 61 sets out the Company’s internal rules on voting at board meetings, whereby any questions voted upon require a two-thirds majority in order to be passed.

In addition, Articles 50 and 55 provide the mechanisms for removing a Director of an expelled Member from office. Under Article 50.7, the office of Director shall be vacated if a Director is required in writing by all his co-Directors to resign. Under Article 55, the Company may remove a Director by way of ordinary resolution (provided extended notice of that resolution has been given). Any appointment of an alternate Director automatically comes to an end once the appointer ceases to be a Director.

3.3     Objections to the renewal of the licences and/or to the licence-applications of non-compliant Members:

Objections to the granting of new licences or to the renewal of existing licences are heard in the District Court.

The main objects clause in the Memorandum of Association of the RRAI is to encourage, oversee, promote and verify compliance with the Code of Practice. In addition, there is a specific provision within the objects clause to permit, enable and empower the RRAI to formally object, either through the relevant department of Customs and Excise or the relevant Court, to the renewal and/or granting of any intoxicating liquor licence attaching to or to attach to any premises of any Member of the RRAI and/or of any non-member.

Furthermore, again under its objects clause, the RRAI may, at its discretion, involve, notify, co-operate with and/or assist the relevant Superintendent of An Garda Síochána (or such other competent authority) in any objections to the renewal or granting of any intoxicating liquor licence.

(a)     Objection to the renewal of an existing off-licence of a non-compliant member -

Under the District Court Rules, an objection to the renewal of an off-licence must be made at the Annual Licensing Court for the Court area that the relevant off-licence is situated in. Annual Licensing Courts take place in September in District Courts nationwide.

The Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011 became law on 17 June 2011. Section 17 thereof provides for formal approval by the Minister for Justice and Equality of a code or codes of practice to regulate the display, sale, supply, advertising, promotion and marketing of alcohol.  Any code of practice that is formally adopted can apply to a chosen class or classes of intoxicating liquor, class or classes of licensed premises, or type of licence.  A licence-holder who is not compliant with an applicable approved code may face objections to the renewal of their liquor licence on the grounds of character.  The RRAI is engaging with the Department of Justice and Equality on the inclusion of the key elements of its voluntary code within any formally approved code that would apply to mixed trading off-licences.

Under statute-law, including the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011, the Superintendent of the Garda Síochána for the licensing area in which an off-licence is located is the only statutory objector to the renewal of that licence. The RRAI has engaged positively with the Gardai in the past regarding objections on the grounds of character. It will renew its previous contacts at Commissioner-level, with a view to full co-operation by the Gardai in any such objections-process.

The RRAI may also send a warning letter to any mixed trading store that persistently or repeatedly commits serious breaches of the Code of Practice. The warning letter will advise the store in question that unless it rectifies existing serious breaches and refrains from further serious breaches, the RRAI may formally recommend to the Gardai that an objection to the renewal of the store’s licence(s) be lodged in Court on the grounds of character.

(b)     Objection to any application by a non-compliant Member for a new off-licence - 

The grounds of objection will depend upon the statutory provision under which an application is made for a new off-licence.

In any application for a full new off-licence, objection can be made on the grounds of the character of the applicant and the suitability of the premises. Moreover, the vast majority of applications for new off-licences are made under section 18 of the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2000, where the grounds of objection are wider again, as follows – the character, misconduct or unfitness of the applicant; the unfitness or inconvenience of the premises; the unsuitability of the premises for the needs of persons residing in the neighbourhood; and/or the adequacy of the existing number of licensed premises of the same character in the neighbourhood.

Likewise, the list of competent objectors is wider in applications for a new off-licence than for the renewal of an existing licence. The following persons can object to an application for a new off-licence:

  • Any resident or owner of property in the parish in which the proposed off-licence is located;
  • The Garda Superintendent for the area in which the proposed off-licence is located; and
  • Any person who would be affected by the decision to grant the licence – the RRAI would presumably fall under this category.

Where serious breaches of the Code of Practice are committed by a Member Group under headings 2.2 or 2.3.2 above, or by an individual store/retailer under heading 2.3.1 above, the RRAI may consider:

(a)     formally objecting to any Court-application for a new off-licence by the Member Group or individual retailer in question; and/or 

(b)     formally recommending to the Gardai that an objection to the renewal of the licence(s) attaching to the store in question be lodged in Court on the grounds of character.

3.4     “Naming and shaming”:

With a view to publicly "naming and shaming" any persistently non-compliant Members, the RRAI may:

  • Publish details on its website of any finding made by the Board of persistent, repeated, or systemic serious breaches by any of the RRAI’s Members; and
  • Issue press releases to the same effect.

The Mature Enjoyment of Alcohol in Society (MEAS) adopts this practice in respect of breaches of its code of practice, and we understand that this garners a certain amount of media coverage, thereby generating negative publicity for the non-compliant Member in question.


ENDS

 

Latest News

RRAI launches consumer hotline for complaints on display and sale of alcohol

(15 Jun 2011)
RRAI launches consumer hotline for complaints on display and sale of alcohol

Minister Dermot Ahern promotes awareness of Code for Mixed Traders

(10 Mar 2010)
Press Release at public event to highlight awareness of the voluntary Code on the sale and display of alcohol in mixed trade premises. Event held at 12.30 on 10 March 2010 at 56 Dame Street Dublin 2.

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