The Joint Industry Code

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

Making a Complaint

Whether a particular promotion is irresponsible will often depend on its context and how it is managed. For example, a promotion which offers 3 drinks for the price of 2 may be responsible if it is served to a group of 3 friends, but could be irresponsible if served to 1 individual. In all cases it will be up to the promoter to demonstrate that the promotion is responsible, for example, by including a message such as “share with your mates”, and staff monitoring.

However, where a person feels a promotion is irresponsible in the context of the Responsible Retailing Code NI they can make a compliant to the Independent Complaints Panel that oversees the code.

How do I make a complaint?

If you think that an alcoholic drink promotional activity or sales practice might breach the Code, you can complain to the Independent Complaints Panel.

All you have to do is to send us a letter or email enclosing / attaching a flyer or describing the promotion or sales practice in question with as much information as possible to:

Responsible Retailing Code

Independent Complaints Panel

c/o 91 University Street

Belfast  BT7 1HP

Please ensure that you enclose your name and contact details, 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.

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

What happens when a complaint is received?

When we receive your complaint, we will notify you (within 7 working days) if your 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, we will explain 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. You will be informed when the Panel is meeting to consider your complaint.

If the Panel does not uphold the complaint we will explain 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.

You 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.