The Scottish government is to consult over how it plans to address an anomaly in its Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) regulations. Last month, a 50p minimum unit price for alcoholic drinks was introduced in Scotland, as part of a wider effort to tackle alcohol-related harm. However, some critics have argued the guidance on dual pricing is incorrect, as it says wholesalers that sell alcohol to the public as well as trade customers could use the mechanism to sell below the ceiling unit price.
Shona Robison, the health secretary, has said the Scottish government is “aware of a technical issue related to the interpretation of how minimum unit pricing operates”.
Indeed, she stated that there are “differing views held by licensing lawyers and the licensing community on the application of the new mandatory condition on minimum unit pricing to premises licences as regards wholesalers and trade sales”.
Ms Robison therefore confirmed that a legislative change will be required in order to clarify the situation, with a consultation on the matter being issued “shortly”.
The Scottish Wholesale Association has supported the decision, as amending the law means “the matter will be put beyond doubt” and confirm that trade sales do not have to comply with MUP.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs added that while it backed MUP “on the basis it was legally sound, since its introduction it has been riddled with loopholes and question marks”.
Speaking to the Courier, he stated that the Scottish government has had “years to sort this out, and even when it was told about the problems, failed to act”.
For further information on any of the points raised in this article please contact Robert Botkai in our Commercial Real Estate and Licensing department.