Archaic Regulations on the Sale of Alcohol via the Internet Hinder the Development of Polish Companies

Archaic Regulations on the Sale of Alcohol via the Internet Hinder the Development of Polish Companies

Act on Upbringing in Sobriety and Counteracting Alcoholism aims to reduce irresponsible alcohol-related behaviours, but not to restrict the lawful sale and consumption of alcohol drinks as a whole. The legal sale of alcohol is important, as it provides the opportunity for responsible and safe consumption. This is the opposite of the gray market, where drinks of unclear composition and unknown origin are available to minors or unsober.

A year and a half after passing legislation that gave local governments the opportunity to limit the sale of alcohol in stores, we checked how it looks like in Polish cities with population over 100,000. residents. 36 (92%) cities out of 39 responded. In 8 cities there are hourly restrictions, in the remaining 28 there are none. This demonstrates a high level of understanding of local governments that solving problems arising from alcohol abuse is not connected with illusive reducing of accessibility at the cost of peace and security of residents at the borders of the prohibition zones, as well as the increase of the gray market.

The Act on Upbringing in Sobriety was created many years ago and some provisions have not been amended so far. They do not take into account the current realities of running the business and technological progress. From today’s perspective, these rules are often imprecise and give rise to interpretation doubts. Online sale of food products is growing rapidly in Poland. This is also affected by the Sunday trade ban. Online sale channel is growing and will grow dynamically, it is impossible to pretend that it does not happen, so there is a need to adapt the regulations to the new reality. Unfortunately, there are no precise provisions that will regulate the sale of alcohol via the Internet. Lawyers’ opinions in this field are divided. The European Commission emphasizes the great importance of using modern technologies for the development of individual countries’ economy. It is ex-tremely important for Polish entrepreneurs to set new, transparent rules regulating the sale of alcohol via the Internet. Due to this, entrepreneurs will be able to develop their business without risk and to compete with European companies. Archaic regulations hinder the
development of Polish entrepreneurs.

In the context of changes that are taking place in Poland, especially after the entry into force of the trade restriction on Sunday, the use of internet commerce for grocery services has begun to grow and will continue to increase as the ban tightens. From this point of view, buying a legal product like alcohol seems to be the logical consequence of changes in e-commerce. The fact that relevant provisions have not been included in the Polish legal system so far is the ignoration of all previous ruling parties. However, it is understandable that when the Act on Upbringing in Sobriety was set, this form of running business did not exist. Of course, alcohol is a special product, as its distribution should be monitored both in terms of an absolute ban on sales to minors, consequently appropriate solutions should be introduced. The Polish Investment & Trade Agency for a long time has been proposing to introduce an absolute requirement for identifying each buyer regardless of the appearance. Similar solutions should apply to the alcohol ordered online, which in practice would eliminate the risk of providing alcohol to minors.

Trade is evolving and pretending that certain areas of commercial activity do not exist is not an option. Alcohol is a legal product and consumers have the right to buy it, using all commercially available tools.


Maciej Ptaszyński

Director of Polish Investment & Trade Agency

Last Updated on May 10, 2021 by Karolina Ampulska