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High Court Endorses ALAC CPO Guidelines

High Court Endorses ALAC CPO Guidelines


The Alcohol Advisory Council (ALAC) has welcomed a High Court ruling saying minors may lie about their age during controlled purchase operations (CPOs) operations to test compliance with laws against selling alcohol to minors.

“The ALAC guidelines around CPOs do not amount to entrapment,” says ALAC acting Chief Executive Officer Sandra Kirby. “They set out to mimic real life and this has now been endorsed by the High Court ruling. When young people are attempting to buy alcohol illegally they lie about their age. This is an every day situation faced by outlets selling alcohol and put simply they must be vigilant in asking for identification from young people.

“We’re relieved that sense and reality has prevailed with this decision. This is confirmation that the High Court supports the work of the Police and other agencies in testing the age-compliance provisions of the Sale of Liquor Act.”

Ms Kirby says the guidelines around CPOs were developed by ALAC in consultation with other agencies in 2003 and have increasingly being used to test compliance with the law. The guidelines state that minors used in such sting operations may lie about their age.

However, the Liquor Licensing Authority (LLA) recently refused to suspend the licence of an Taupo bottle store which sold alcohol to a 17-year-old in November last year due to concerns over deception. The Police appealed to the High Court and the appeal was upheld.

“It would have been most unrealistic for the youngster, when asked if they were over 18, to have said ‘no, oops, so sorry’ and turned and walked out. The kids know the law, they’re trying to get around it by trying the purchase in the first place and they’re not likely to admit they’re lying if they’re trying it on.”

Ms Kirby says that sighting for identification is the only safe way for servers-of-alcohol to verify a person’s age.

“If in doubt, ask for a person’s identification. The message and the law is clear. Don’t rely on asking a person their age, ask to see either a current passport, New Zealand driver’s licence or HANZ 18+ card. If in doubt, you have the right of refusal.”


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