Aldi and Home Bargains have been granted licences to sell alcohol in two new stores in Dundee after a court ruling saw a controversial council policy binned.
The board’s most recent over-provision policy on alcohol sales, in place since January 2018, has now been scrapped after a sheriff ruled it was unlawful in March this year.
After initially being refused an off-sales licence, Aldi took the case to the courts and Sheriff Lindsay Foulis upheld the discount retailer’s appeal.
The case was remitted back to Dundee City Council’s licensing committee but board members conceded the ruling meant they were left with no option but to approve the licences.
The policy had stated there was an excess of alcohol sales in Dundee stores and opposed granting additional alcohol licensing unless cases submitted warranted approval.
Speaking at the licensing meeting on Thursday, Brian Woodcock, senior licensing solicitor for the council, explained the legal implications of the court ruling to the board which effectively made the overprovision policy redundant.
He said an objection to the licences submitted by the Dundee Alcohol and Drug Partnership had also been squashed as, without the policy in place, it was no longer valid.
Aidan O’Neil QC, representing Aldi on instruction by TLT Solicitors said: “We know the over-provision policy has been struck down as unlawful because the sheriff upheld the fact that it didn’t take into account that minimum unit pricing had come into force – a floor price for retail sales (of alcohol) across Scotland.”
O’Neil then summarised Aldi’s legal footing.
He said: “Therefore, the previous objectives are no longer valid. That means…that the board is obliged to grant the application…as there are no (legal) grounds for the board to refuse it.”
Stewart Hunter, convener of the licensing committee, invited questions or comments from other members, but none were raised.
“There’s no policy that this is contrary to…(therefore) we have to grant this application,” he conceded.
After Aldi’s application was granted, solicitor Derek Edwards, representing Home Bargains. said his client was therefore appealing for fair market access.
He said: “People do go to supermarkets as a one stop shop. And so, if the other competitors (Aldi and other alcohol retailers) have an alcohol offering, then it would put Home Bargains at a disadvantage if they did not.”
Home Bargains was also granted a licence due to the absence of the policy.