A group of Edinburgh businesses have failed in a legal bid to overturn a Scottish Government decision to keep the Scottish capital in level 3 of tough Covid regulations.
Roddy Dunlop QC told the Court of Session on Friday how the Scottish Government’s refusal to move Edinburgh into Level 2 was “unlawful” and “irrational” and placing companies at risk of “financial ruin.”
He told judge Lord Ericht that the rate of Covid 19 transmission figures is so low in Edinburgh that it should be placed in level 2.
Mr Dunlop, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, said that according to the Scottish Government’s own guidelines, the city should move down a level.
However, he said that the Holyrood administration had ignored advice from its own public health officials recommending that the city be moved to level two.
Mr Dunlop said that the rate of Covid 19 transmission in Edinburgh was lower than other places in Scotland which are moving to a lower tier..
And he said that many Edinburgh based businesses are facing the prospect of going bust.
Mr Dunlop told judge Lord Ericht that he should order the suspension of the Scottish Government’s decision to keep Edinburgh in tier three.
However, lawyers for the Scottish Government argued that the Holyrood administration acted lawfully.
Advocate James Mure QC told the court that officials were concerned at recent increases in the numbers of people in Edinburgh suffering from the virus.
He also told the court that the government was worried about the number of people who could travel to Edinburgh over the Christmas holidays if the city was placed into level 2.
Mr Mure said the Scottish Government was concerned that the numbers of infections could increase and with this in mind, it had taken a lawful decision.
On Friday night shortly before 8pm, Lord Ericht agreed with Scottish Ministers and dismissed the case.
He said: “In my opinion they do not have a primae facia case. I refuse the petitioner’s motion for interim suspension.”
Mr Dunlop was speaking at a judicial review which had been brought to Scotland’s highest civil court by a group of businesses from Edinburgh.
The first petitioners in the case are a firm known as KLR & RCR
International Ltd. The firm own the One20 Wine Cafe in the city’s Dundas Street.
Another petitioner includes Montpeliers Ltd, which owns pubs, restaurants and hotels.
KLR director Ronnie Reid previously won a judicial review at the Court of Session against City Council chiefs who tried to close his business earlier this year.
Mr Reid and his fellow group of businesses have gone to court over a decision made earlier this week by the Scottish Government.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the capital would remain at level three due to concerns over Christmas shopping.
The First Minister told the Scottish Parliament: “The imminence of the Christmas period has also had an impact on our thinking.”
Mr Dunlop said the decision to remain in tier 3 so close to Christmas was putting businesses at risk of going under.
Mure QC told Lord Ericht that the government had acted lawfully in making its decision to keep Edinburgh in level 3.
He said that there had been an increase in transmission of the virus in recent days and that this trend could continue in the run up to Christmas.
Mr Mure also told the court that for many Scottish people, Edinburgh was a popular destination for day trips. He said the Scottish Government was concerned that people could socialise and thus increase the numbers of people who contract the virus.
Lord Ericht agreed.