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STAP hopes that new verdict will stop alcohol deregulation pilot

30 July 2016

The regional Court in Utrecht ruled last week that the municipality of Nieuwegein is violating the Alcohol Licensing and Catering Act by allowing that some entrepreneurs of non-food stores and other non-licensed retailers, sell and serve alcoholic beverages.

The lawsuit was filed by the SlijtersUnie, an organization of liquor store owners. They argued that selling and serving alcohol in these places is against the law. The Court agreed. "Only under special circumstances may the municipality deviate from its enforcement duty," the Court ruled, adding that there are no special circumstances.

Since April 2016 around 50 municipalities participate in a large alcohol deregulation pilot initiated by the Dutch Union of Local Authorities. The municipalities stopped enforcing the legal regulations regarding on and off premise sales of alcohol, at least against a selected group of retailers, such as bookstores, barber shops, beauty parlors, shoe repair shops, laundromats etc. The idea behind the pilot is that selling and drinking wine or beer in shops and enterprises makes shopping more attractive and brings more liveliness in the downtown area.

This is the second verdict of its kind. The regional Court of Overijssel gave last March already a reprimand to the municipality of Zwolle for not enforcing the off premise sales of wine in a large bookstore in an old church in the city centre.

The Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy STAP hopes that this new verdict will stop the deregulation pilot in all participating municipalities. Attempts by the State Secretary of Health Martin van Rijn, responsible for the Alcohol Licensing and Catering Act, to put an end to the pilot are so far ignored by the Union of Local Authorities and the municipalities. An unprecedented case of administrative disobedience.

Source: nltimes.nl.

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