Alcohol Beverage Law Trade Practices


CLE Credits earned: 2 GENERAL (or 2 LAW & LEGAL for WA state)

This presentation will principally cover the Federal unfair trade practices and note how they differ from those of the States. Because of these variances between the States, you need to examine closely the State laws of your client’s business activities.

“Alcohol is different” is a key refrain by the government, public, and industry members. No other commodity is the subject of two Constitutional amendments. Even firearms are only mentioned once. Following Repeal of National Prohibition, both the Federal Government and the State Governments enacted unfair trade practice laws to prevent the recurrence of the “social evils” that resulted in Prohibition. Many of today’s laws date back to the mid-1930s; yet these laws are applied to the alcohol marketplace of today with all of its differences from that marketplace in the 1930s. More pointedly, Congress recently gave the Federal regulator an additional $5 million dollars for unfair trade practice enforcement. During the past year, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has undertaken an aggressive investigation program across the United States. As of May 2018, there are 51 open investigations with close to 10 percent of the TTB workforce, directly or indirectly, involved with these investigations.

This course is co-sponsored with myLawCLE.

Key topics to be discussed:

•   The underlying public policies for the alcohol beverage specific unfair trade practice laws
•   The elements and interpretations of the four Federal unfair trade practices under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act
•   The enforcement powers and range of sanctions that may be imposed by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)
•   Update on the current aggressive trade practice investigations being conducted by TTB across the United States, some of which include joint work with the State alcohol agencies

Date / Time: June 14, 2019

•   2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Eastern
•   1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Central
•   12:00 pm – 2:00 pm Mountain
•   11:00 am – 1:00 pm Pacific

Choose a format:

•   Live Video Broadcast/Re-Broadcast: Watch Program “live” in real-time, must sign-in and watch program on date and time set above. May ask questions during presentation via chat box. Qualifies for “live” CLE credit.
•   On-Demand Video: Access CLE 24/7 via on-demand library and watch program anytime. Qualifies for self-study CLE credit. On-demand versions are made available 7 business days after the original recording date and are view-able for up to one year.

Select your state to see if this class is approved for CLE credit.

Choose the format you want.


Original Broadcast Date: August 14, 2018

Robert M. Tobiassen, Esq. is the Principal at Tobiassen Consulting Plus Solutions LLC after a 34-year Federal service career with regulatory, taxation, and administrative and judicial enforcement experience with the domestic and global alcohol industry and served in the career Senior Executive Service (SES). As the inaugural Chief Counsel at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), U.S. Treasury Department, from 2003 to 2012, he headed a professional and support staff providing comprehensive legal support on taxation, regulatory and administrative law, constitutional law, trial and appellate litigation, international trade and globalization, personnel and equal opportunity, ethics, environmental law, and appropriations and fiscal law. He was responsible for the drafting and reviewing of regulations, administrative rulings, and legislation; developing and reviewing trade agreements; and evaluating enforcement actions under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and the Federal Alcohol Administration Act. He served as the legal liaison with state alcohol regulators, trade associations, public advocacy groups, other federal agencies, and Members of Congress and their staff, including the Joint Committee on Taxation, and foreign governments and international organizations. He is a frequent speaker at alcohol law seminars and a published expert on legal issues concerning alcohol. Mr. Tobiassen holds an A.B. in Political Science with distinction from the University of California, Berkeley, a J.D. from the Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon where he served on law review, and a LL.M. in Taxation from the Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC. Among other awards, Mr. Tobiassen received the 2003 Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious SES Executives and the 2012 Distinguished Service Award from the Secretary of the Treasury.

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Section I. The Prohibition Experience: Reasons for specific unfair trade practice laws for alcohol beverages

Section II. Federal and State concurrent jurisdictions: General differences in legal frameworks

Section III. Federal Alcohol Administration Act, Title 27 USC Chapter 8 (1935)
a) Exclusive Outlet
b) Tied-house
c) Commercial Bribery
d) Consignment Sales
e) Penultimate Paragraph on similar State law for malt beverage practices
f) Pricing Arrangements – Legitimate or Subterfuge?

Section IV. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), Department of the Treasury
a) Jurisdiction
b) Investigative Authorities
c) Potential Sanctions

Section V. 2017-2019 Enhanced Trade Practices Enforcement including joint investigations by TTB and the State alcohol agency

Section VI. Other issues: First Amendment; Supreme Court decisions