Our advice to anyone selling alcohol is to only purchase from reputable suppliers that you have verified and to consider checking stock for signs that it might not be genuine. Some example ‘tell-tales’ of counterfeit goods are ;
Note that this information is only an indication and does not conclusively prove whether something is genine of fake. Just because a product is marked as a known brand does not mean that it is safe to buy. Sometimes a counterfeit may take the form of a ‘new’ brand, but equally it may be sold as something that is well-known.
For products which contain 37% ABV or more, there should be a duty stamp. The inner part of the stamp should ‘light up’ under UV light, normally in green, yellow or white. If the whole label lights up, it is likely to be counterfeit.
HMRC and Trading Standards officers have the powers to seize alcohol where they believe duty has not been paid, so it is sensible to have invoices available for inspection in case you should have a visit. If you do not have documents available, it is still possible to produce them later but it is important to do so as quickly as you can otherwise the product may be destroyed and you will only receive compensation for its value.
A written policy on the measures in place to avoid purchasing counterfeit goods is highly recommended. We can assist with this and tailor a document that is suitable for you.
Our solicitors have experience of defending situations where counterfeit alcohol is purchased by mistake and in representing clients in licence review hearings. This is a serious matter and anyone investigated for counterfeit alcohol sales is recommended to seek legal advice as soon as possible.