Five of Scotland’s hospitality industry bodies have launched a legal process against the government-imposed restrictions placed on the licensed trade.

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association, The Scottish Licensed Trade Association, UK Hospitality (Scotland), the Scottish Hospitality Group and the Night Time Industries Association Scotland issued a pre action letter to the Scottish Government on Wednesday (21 October), requesting a response to legal challenges by 4pm on 28 October.

The move is on the advice of legal expert Aidan O’Neill QC, who advised the bodies that a judicial review would be warranted.

If the government fails to respond by the proposed deadline, matters could move forward with a petition for a judicial review.

Accusing the government of using “anecdotal evidence” to back its decisions, a joint spokesperson for the five groups, Paul Waterson, pointed to recent research in Northern Ireland that found the closure of hospitality only has a 0.1-0.2% impact on the rate of infection.

The research also revealed that rather than reduce the R rate, the Irish lockdown was to ensure behavioural and policy compliance in other areas, “effectively confirming that the hospitality industry has been held up as a sacrificial lamb.”

“The economic support offered to premises doesn’t come close to compensating the businesses and means jobs are being lost and livelihoods ruined,” he said. “Any measures must be proportionate and be backed up by evidence, we do not believe that is the case here.

“The industry simply cannot endure the extension of the current restrictions, further restrictive measures expected from the 2nd of November or get into a stop start situation. We are now facing the end of our industry as we know it.

“The battle is now on to save the hospitality sector.”