The Joint Industry Code

for the Responsible Promotion & Retail of Alcohol in Northern Ireland (2012)


Responsibly served and well-managed promotions and sales practices are a legitimate way of maintaining and developing business. On the other hand, irresponsible promotions and sales practices may encourage or incite individuals to drink to excess, and fuel drunkenness or anti-social behaviour. Whilst the consumption of alcohol in the home is beyond our control, the industry understands the impact that the promotion and sale of alcohol has on the drinking patterns of consumers. Therefore, whether alcohol is for consumption in the home or in on-trade premises, the industry has a responsibility to ensure that the sale and promotion of alcohol is done in a way that promotes responsible consumption.

The Joint Industry Code for the Responsible Promotion and Retail of Alcohol inNorthern Ireland (2012) has been produced on a voluntary basis and outlines the basic standards expected of those involved in the production, promotion, retail and service of alcohol inNorthern Ireland. It looks to promote best practice, to prevent alcohol being irresponsibly promoted or sold, and offers clear and measurable standards. It applies across the industry including the on and off trades. With complaints about producers referred to the Portman Group in the first instance, this Code will cover any other complaints that do not fall within the Portman Group’s remit.

How does it Work?

If an individual thinks that an alcoholic drink promotional activity or sales practice might breach the Code, they can complain to an Independent Complaints Panel. All they have to do is send a letter enclosing a flyer or describing the promotion or sales practice in question, with as much information as possible.Persons making a complaint MUST provide their full name and address, so that we may contact you if necessary and to allow us to investigate. Your complaint, and your name, will be treated as confidential, unless you have a competitive interest in the matter.The individual lodging a complaint will be notified (within 7 working days of receipt) if the complaint is one which can be dealt with under the Code. If it is, it will be investigated by the Independent Complaints Panel (the Panel) which meets regularly and is independent of the alcohol industry. If it is not, it will be explained why.The Panel will inform the company that a complaint has been made and ask for their response.The complaint and the company’s response are then adjudicated on by the Panel. The individual will be informed when the Panel is meeting to consider the complaint.If the Panel does not uphold the complaint it will be explained why not. The decision is final.If the Panel does uphold the complaint, the decision is provisional and the company is given the opportunity to make further representations. This is because finding against a company may have serious business and reputational repercussions. The Panel will then meet again to consider any further representations before a final decision is made. If the company does not challenge the provisional decision, then the decision becomes final.The individual who initially lodged the complaint and the company are then informed of the Panel’s final decision. The decision will be notified to the press, the company’s local PSNI and Council, as well as being published on the website and in the Annual Report.

Hospitality Ulster provide secretariat and administrative services for the Independent Complaints Panel.