A member of the public had complained that the operation of a two-tiered admission structure to nightclubs within the Russell Court Hotel coupled with a price-based promotion encouraged customers who paid the higher cover charge to drink more, thus leading to irresponsible drinking.
The independent Complaints Panel noted that the MEAS Guidance Notes on Point Of Sale Promotions and Materials and Serving of Multiple Drinks states that promotions “identified and agreed to be those that should not be run as they are either unlawful, or entail a disproportionate risk that they will lead directly to alcohol misuse and anti-social behaviour” include “entry fees that are linked with unlimited free drinks eg €20 on the door and all your drinks are free”, “[and] promotions that involve free drinks or reduced price drinks for a limited period of a day”.
Dicey’s Garden Bar and Bojangles nightclub are located within the Russell Court Hotel and the Panel noted that four members of the group concerned, who were over 30 years-of-age, were admitted to Dicey’s Garden bar on paying a €5 entry fee while the rest of the group was required to enter via Bojangles nightclub entrance and pay a €10 entry fee.
The Panel also noted that all pints and bottles of lager, bottles of Alcopops and other selected shots were €2.50 in Dicey’s Garden Bar and in Bojangles nightclub. The higher (€10) entrance fee to Bojangles nightclub reflected the superior level of entertainment and facilities provided relative to Dicey’s Garden bar, entrance to which a lower €5 fee was charged. Different age policy rules applied to admission with over 21s being directed to Dicey’s Garden bar. While it was possible for patrons entering via the separate on-street entrance to Bojangles Nightclub to leave the Nightclub via an internal door and proceed to Dicey’s Garden bar, arrangements were in place (security personnel at entrance doors and stamping of nightclub name on patrons’ wrists) to prevent patrons entering via Dicey’s Garden bar to then enter Bojangles nightclub.
The Panel concluded that the nightclub admission charge arrangements did not entail a disproportionate risk that they would lead directly to alcohol misuse and therefore did not breach the MEAS Code.