Are you being served? Permission to challenge restrictions on serving alcohol during the old Tier 2 rules.
The “Night-Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester”, Sasha Lord, and others have been granted permission to bring a claim for judicial review against the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. This case will challenge one of the Government’s restrictions brought in during the old Tier 2 rules, in particular, the ban on serving alcohol unless served with a “table meal”.
In a recent hearing, Judge Pearce was satisfied that there is an arguable case in law that a ground for judicial review exists which merits a full investigation by the courts. This will involve Sasha Lord (co-creator of the Parklife Festival and The Warehouse Project) and others in Greater Manchester, bringing a claim against the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care seeking declarations as to the lawfulness of restrictions enforced during the old Tier 2 rules, in particular: the “Table Meal” exemption in the Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) Regulations 2020 prohibiting businesses selling alcohol for consumption on the premises unless served as part of a table meal. The judicial review may also include allegations of discrimination on the basis that closing pubs that did not serve food discriminated sectors of society.
The legal arguments
The claimants allege that the Table Meal exemption was unlawful for a variety of reasons, including:
1. The ability to serve alcohol with a “table meal”, but not without, is irrational and/or there is no scientific evidence to support a higher risk.
2. It is indirect discrimination under the Equality Act 2010.
3. It is discrimination under the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case will be listed before a High Court judge for two days, at a date to be confirmed. We will keep you updated.
Judicial review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. A judicial review is not really concerned with the conclusions and whether the ‘right’ decision was made, but rather that the correct procedure was followed.
As financial pressures mount and tensions heighten in the next few months, it is highly likely that we see an increase in judicial reviews relating to the Coronavirus restrictions. There have already been several, including last week, when an asylum seeker launched judicial review proceedings against the Home Secretary, challenging the “curfew” at a hotel in London and the example above.
If you are in the hospitality sector and you were unable to serve alcohol during the old tier 2, this case will be of particular interest to you. However, any challenge also has the potential to open the floodgates to similar issues and businesses affected by the Coronavirus regulations.
Head of Regulatory, Kathryn Gilbertson, is renowned for her legal and practical experience within the hospitality and leisure sector. She is also highly experienced in advising on judicial review claims from issues relating to EA permitting through to local authorities serving legal proceedings in food safety matters. If you would like to discuss a potential judicial review, please get in touch.
This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. For advice, get in touch with your usual Greenwoods GRM contact or scroll down to complete our enquiry form.