It is understood that trading standards co-ordinating body LACORS, in its report on test purchasing which is due to be published at the end of April, is to recommend that local authorities should not encourage children to lie about their age if questioned by a retailer. However it is also expected to include the 'exceptional circumstances' clause.
Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) public affairs manager James Lowman said that the if the clause was included in the report it would create uncertainty for retailers.
He said: "We have worked closely with LACORS on this matter and the recommendation that kids should not lie is a step in the right direction. However if LACORS does give local authorites a special circumstances option we're concerned that the criteria would be subjective and lead to grey areas."
Lowman said that there should be very clear guidelines as to what constitutes special circumstances and when such tactics can be employed.
A spokeswoman for LACORS confirmed that the report will include this clause, and said that it was thought necessary for local authorites to have this option when dealing with retailers about whom there was strong evidence of law-breaking. Lying could also be used if a retailer was likely to know that a test purchasing campaign was taking place.