Trade groups’ coronavirus legal action will continue

Initial response from Holyrood has “failed to address concerns” of the industry

Groups demand further consultation and communication with businesses ahead of decision making


A CONSORTIUM of five hospitality trade groups is to continue with its legal challenge of Scottish Government coronavirus restrictions, saying Scottish ministers have “failed to address the groups’ concerns”.

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association, Scottish Beer & Pub Association, UK Hospitality, the Scottish Hospitality Group and the Night Time Industries Association Scotland last month served the Scottish Government with a pre-action letter challenging the trading restrictions imposed on the industry.

The consortium of groups has now said that the Scottish Government’s response to that letter “fails to address the group’s concerns on the government’s obligations as to constitutionality, accountability, consultation and evidence which are incumbent on the Scottish Parliament and Scottish ministers”.

A second letter has been sent to the Scottish Government requesting a number of assurances.

These include a “continued improvement in consultation and communication with industry representatives”; a commitment to considering the impact of policy decisions on businesses; greater time for businesses to prepare for changes in policy; a “sustained effort” to ensure consistency in the enforcement of regulations across Scotland; and a commitment to provide financial support to “fully compensate businesses for the effects of policy decisions”.

In a joint statement the groups’ spokesman, Paul Waterson, said there is a “serious issue of government reliance on introducing regulations, rushed through with the use of emergency powers and with no realistic opportunity for consultation or consideration”.

“There also remains an absence of any substantive or qualitative evidence of the effect the operation of hospitality and licensed premises have on the spread of COVID-19 despite the sweeping and draconian restrictions which have been and are increasingly being imposed on our industry,” said Waterson.

“These restrictions put at risk the very survival of our industry.”