Supply of Alcohol to Minors

Legislative changes which came into effect on 18 December 2017 prescribe a new regime with respect to the supply of alcohol to minors. 

It has always been the case that it is unlawful for a licensee of a licensed premises (e.g. a hotel or bottle shop etc) to supply alcohol to a minor. 

The changes to the law now seek to prohibit the provision of alcohol to teenagers at halls, warehouses, industrial sheds and out buildings. 

Effectively, so called “after parties” which were frequently held after school formals and socials etc should be condemned to history because the new laws prescribe that a person must not supply alcohol to children under the age of 18 years at a non-residential property which is:   

“being used for the purposes of an organised event, where admission to the event is gained on payment of money, presentation of a pre-paid ticket or purchase of some item.” 

An exception to the prohibition against the supply of alcohol to, and the consumption of alcohol by minors applies if:

  1. the supply of alcohol is “gratuitous” (presumably this means “for free”);
  2. the alcohol is supplied at a place of residence;
  3. the alcohol is supplied to the minor by a responsible adult or an adult person who has obtained the consent of a responsible adult to that supply of liquor to the minor;
  4. the supply of alcohol is consistent with the responsible supervision of the minor. 

A “responsible adult” is defined to include a parent of the minor. 

The legislation prescribes the following matters which are relevant to determine whether the supply of liquor is consistent with the “responsible supervision” of the minor.  Those matters are:

  1. whether the responsible adult (i.e. parent) or authorised adult (i.e. an adult who has obtained the consent of a parent to supply liquor to their child) is directly supervising the minor’s consumption of alcohol;
  2. the parent providing the alcohol and the parent who has authorised the supply of alcohol shall not be intoxicated;
  3. the minor should not be intoxicated;
  4. the age of the minor is a factor (i.e. clearly the provision of alcohol to a 17 year old differs from the provision of alcohol to a much younger child);
  5. the quantity and type of alcohol supplied and the period over which it is supplied. 

It is clear that the legislature has targeted big parties and events where large groups of teenagers are supplied with alcohol. 

The new legislation also attempts to codify the limited circumstances where alcohol can be served to minors in private settings when there is adequate parental supervision present and prior parental consent to the consumption of alcohol has been obtained. 

A link is provided below to a publication entitled “Parent Frequently Asked Questions” published by the Department of Consumer and Business Services. 


Charles Beresford

28 February 2018