Licensing news Scotland - February 2018

This month in summary


Licensing News

The Scottish Government announce the Minimum Unit Price for alcohol

After a long legal challenge, culminating in the Supreme Court with a decision in November 2017 backing the legislation, the Scottish Government launched a consultation on the proposed minimum unit price of 50 pence per unit.  It ran between 1 December 2017 to 26 January 2018.


A total of 130 responses were received 74.3% supported 50p per unit but 17.1% stated that the minimum unit price should be higher than 50 pence per unit.

Of the 70 respondents who commented on the proposed price, 30 expressed a view on future changes. 70% wanted the proposed 50 pence minimum unit price to be reviewed after a period of time whereas 30% stated that the proposed price of 50 pence per unit should remain for the full five year period.

As a result, the Scottish Government will adopt the 50p per unit Minimum Unit Price which will come into effect on 1 May 2018.

Dundee overprovided for in respect of pubs and off-sales

Dundee Licensing Board has, following a public consultation, adopted a Supplementary Overprovision Policy.  The Policy sets a presumption against the grant of any new licences (or increases for existing licences) for off-sales premises.  Bars, restaurants, cafes and hotels etc are unaffected but the Board does reserve the right to consider that there may be overprovision of such premises on a case-by-case basis.

Supporters claim the Policy is necessary to tackle alcohol health harms, whilst those opposed claim that the Policy sends out the message that Dundee is closed for new retail business.

Agent of Change Principle

Following the Scottish Government's recent consultation on whether to adopt the Agent of Change Principle into planning legislation and ahead of the evidence sessions at Parliament, it has been widely reported that the Agent of Change Principle is to be included in the next revision of the National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy.

The move means the concept will have a statutory footing.  Thus residential developers, for example, must consider what impact their flats/houses will have on pre-existing businesses.  There have been a number of high profile cases arising from new noise receptors being established beside existing live music venues. Before planning will be granted the developer will require to demonstrate what attenuation they will install to prevent their residents complaining about noise from the music venue.

Gambling News

Tighter advertising standards to come into force

New standards announced by the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) and enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), have been announced and come into force from 2 April. They will apply across the gambling industry. The new standards look to:

  • restrict ads that create an inappropriate sense of urgency like those including “Bet Now!” offers during live events
  • curb trivialisation of gambling (eg encouraging repetitive play)
  • prevent approaches that give an irresponsible perception of the risk or control (eg “Risk Free Deposit Bonus”)
  • provide greater detail on problem gambling behaviours and associated behaviours indicators that should not be portrayed, even indirectly
  • prevent undue emphasis on money-motives for gambling
  • provide more detail on vulnerable groups like problem gamblers that marketers need to work to protect.

One of the primary targets for the new measures appears to be the in-play betting market that is heavily advertised during live sport broadcasts on commercial television. In particular, the changes are focussed on ensuring consumers are able to make informed choices about how and when they gamble and not feel pressured into making decisions that could cause them harm.

William Hill fined for breaches of duty to prevent money laundering and problem gambling

In another sign of the Gambling Commission doubling down on its pledge to take operators to task where failures to protect problem gamblers or prevent money laundering are identified, William Hill have been fined £6.2m in relation to breaches of anti-money laundering and social responsibility regulations. This is one of a number of significant fines levied by the commission since their much publicised change in stance on enforcement and follows on from the £7.8m fine levied against in 2017 for failures to protect problem gamblers.

The Gambling Commission's press release states that: 'Senior management failed to mitigate risks and have sufficient numbers of staff to ensure their anti-money laundering and social responsibility processes were effective. This resulted in ten customers being allowed to deposit large sums of money linked to criminal offences which resulted in gains for WHG of around £1.2m. WHG did not adequately seek information about the source of their funds or establish whether they were problem gamblers.'

The clear message here is that companies are expected to probe into their customers' finances to such a degree that they are not only satisfied that the customer is gambling within his or her means, but that the money they use is from a legitimate source. A simple verbal confirmation from the customer as to where his money comes from and how much he earns is not enough, in particular for high stakes gamblers. The Gambling Commission have identified the following questions as being key to establishing whether internal systems are likely to be robust enough in this regard:

  • Are you ensuring you have effective anti-money laundering and social responsibility procedures and are your staff following these procedures?
  • Are you sure you have adequate staff numbers to carry out these procedures?
  • Are you checking that you know higher risk customers’ source of wealth?
  • Are you using all information (including customer spend levels) to identify potential instances of problem gambling?
  • Are you keeping accurate records of these interactions?

The full regulatory settlement can be found at here. 

Out and about

As ever our licensing team have been on the road representing clients up and down the country.  In the last month we have successfully appeared for clients at the following boards and committees, Edinburgh Licensing Board; East Dunbartonshire Licensing Board; Edinburgh Licensing Committee; Falkirk Licensing Board; Dundee Licensing Board; North Lanarkshire Licensing Board; Fife Licensing Board; Glasgow Licensing Board

In addition to the above, as supporters of the trade and our award winning clients, we have attended the following events, BEN Dinner; Scottish Wholesalers Awards; Prestige Hotel Awards.

Finally, looking into March, we wish Stephen McGowan, Partner and Head of Licensing, all the best for his nomination as "Lawyer of the Year" at the 15th annual Scott + Co Scottish Legal Awards to be held on 15 March – GOOD LUCK!

This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at February 2018. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions.

Date published

28 February 2018


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