Instruments of this type have been found mounted on tables in licensed premises. They enable customers to measure draught beer into glasses, and to settle their account by reference to the total quantity of beer drawn. These systems incorporate a meter such as a turbine meter, which allows free-flow delivery, and indicate the quantity delivered, for example, in units of 0.1 pint.
Legal Metrological Requirements
Such systems allow customers themselves to dispense beer into a glass in various quantities, which they determine themselves.
There are 2 relevant Metrology Statutory Instruments:-
• The Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) Order 1988 (as amended) and
• The Measuring Equipment (Intoxicating Liquor) Regulations 1983 (as amended)
Article 2 of the Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) Order 1988 reads:-
2(1) Unless pre-packed in a securely closed container and except when sold as a constituent of a mixture of two or more liquids, beer or cider shall be sold by retail:
(a) Only in a quantity of ⅓ pint, ½ pint or a multiple of ½ pint; and
(b) Subject to paragraph (2) below, where sold for consumption on the premises of the seller, only in a capacity measure of the quantity in question.
(2) Paragraph (1)(b) above shall not apply where:
(a) The quantity of the intoxicating liquor the subject of the sale is ascertained by means of measuring equipment stamped in accordance with regulation 16(2) of the Measuring
Equipment (Intoxicating Liquor) Regulations 1983.
(b) The liquor in question is delivered directly from the measuring equipment into the container in which it is intended the buyer should receive it.
(c) The liquor in question is so delivered after the buyer has ordered it; and
(d) The measuring equipment (or that part of it from which the liquor is delivered) is installed in such a position that the delivery of the liquor into the container can readily be seen by customers in that part of the premises where the buyer ordered the liquor.
Regulation 2 of the Measuring Equipment (Intoxicating Liquor) Regulations 1983 (as amended) reads:-
These Regulations apply to measuring equipment for use for trade on premises where liquor is sold by retail for the purpose of making any measurement of liquor in a quantity not exceeding 2 pints; and measuring equipment to which these Regulations apply is hereby prescribed for the purposes of section 11(1) of the Act.
Compliance with the Metrological Requirements
With the instruments in question, the quantity delivered is defined by the operator, who is the customer. If there is no direct control or interlock which prevents the operator delivering quantities other than ⅓ pint, ½ pint or multiples of ½ a pint, compliance with the Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) Order 1988 will not be guaranteed, especially if any indications of the quantity dispensed, or measurements recorded, are in 0.1 pint.
The requirement for the deliveries, where sold for consumption on the premises of the seller, to be only in a verified capacity serving measure (CSM) of the quantity in question, is not likely to be met as it is the buyer not the seller taking the delivery and the sale is not on the basis of the delivery into the CSM. The alternative requirement, in that the quantity of the intoxicating liquor which is the subject of the sale is ascertained by means of measuring equipment stamped in accordance with regulation 16(2) of the Measuring Equipment (Intoxicating Liquor) Regulations 1983, will also not be met, unless the system is fully compliant with the requirements of the regulations including the requirements for type approval under the Weights and Measures Act 1985 and is stamped.
If such an instrument were used to make ANY measurement of liquor in a quantity not exceeding 2 pints, it would appear to fall within the definition of measuring equipment in the Measuring Equipment (Intoxicating Liquor) Regulations 1983 (as amended), and would be prescribed, and would require a certificate of approval. At present, no such measuring equipment is made in accordance with a pattern in respect of which such a certificate of approval is in force, as required by Regulation 3.
If NO measurements were made that were less than 2 pints, then this alternative ceases to be an option and therefore all such deliveries would have to be made into a verified CSM.
There are licensing concerns since the beer is delivered, free flow, by the customer. It would be important that some control procedure was in place whereby the bar staff can effectively supervise alcohol sales, and ensure that offences under the Licensing Act 2003 relating to underage and proxy sales, as well as selling to drunk persons, are not committed by either patrons or staff. These issues have both health and road safety implications.
In inspecting and testing instruments of this type, councils should be aware of the manner of use, and the type of product measured and its characteristics. Councils cannot give “approval” for use, unless all such usage is fully compliant.
Based on information received to date, these instruments are unlawful for use for trade and as such, their use is an offence by virtue of section 11(2) of the Weights and Measures Act 1985.
As with all such matters we would expect councils to consider their own enforcement policies alongside views of the licensing authority, any consumer complaints and unfair competition issues, before considering what action to take.
It is strongly advised that a prospective purchaser of such a system is made aware of this advice.
Those who have already installed such systems should be aware that they may be in contravention of weights & measures and / or licensing law, depending on how the systems are used.
If you have any further questions pleased not hesitate to contact me.