Late-night industry threatens legal action over COVID-19 restrictions

Lawyers representing trade group NTIA Scotland will request a judicial review of the restrictions at the Court of Session

A GROUP representing Scotland’s late-night industry has announced its intention to launch legal action against the Scottish Government over ongoing coronavirus restrictions.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) Scotland have written to the Scottish Government to say that they will request a judicial review of the Scottish Government’s ongoing trading restrictions at the Court of Session, on the grounds that they are “no longer justifiable” and contravene human rights laws.

A statement from the group said that, while its members accepted that restrictions “were initially necessary in the interests of public health”, the success of the UK’s vaccination programme has meant that COVID-19 “no longer presents the threat to public health that it did even a few short months ago”.

“It is therefore the position of the NTIA that the restrictions imposed on hospitality businesses by the Scottish Government with regards to capacity, activities and operating hours are no longer justifiable or proportionate and any continued application of such emergency restrictions would now be in breach of Article 1 of the first Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, which applies in the UK by virtue of the Human Rights Act 1998,” said the statement.

Mike Grieve, managing director of the Sub Club in Glasgow and chair of NTIA Scotland, said: “In light of the continued failure of the Scottish Government to address or even acknowledge the plight of Scotland’s culturally vital and economically significant nightclub sector, NTIA Scotland has reached the conclusion that there is no alternative but to challenge the continued enforced closure in the Court of Session.

“As things stand, we have no ability to trade, no indicative date for reopening, no ongoing funding, and no prospect of keeping our staff in employment.

“Meanwhile, the oft-quoted ‘scientific data’ backing the regular assertion from the Scottish Government that hospitality settings are a significant factor in COIVD transmission, has yet to be produced. It is completely wrong to decimate an industry based on untested presumptions.”

The Scottish Government has until 7th May to respond to NTIA Scotland’s letter. The legal challenge is being handled on behalf of NTIA Scotland by legal firm TLT.