Media Release: Law Society advises of potential unintended consequences as new rules on alcohol advertising come into force

NEW laws come into force this Saturday, 1 October 2011, which will ban ‘irresponsible promotions’ in supermarkets and a ban on the advertising of alcohol promotions.

But Stephen McGowan, from the Law Society of Scotland’s Licensing Law committee, has warned there may be unintended consequences: “The new rules, under the Alcohol etc (Scotland) Act 2010, are designed to limit public exposure to alcohol marketing as well as reduce retailers attempts to entice customers to buy more.

“A ban on alcoholic drinks promotions will apply equally across all licensed premises. The change will mean an end to various supermarket deals such as buy three bottles of wine for £10 as of this Saturday. But, the multipack rule only applies if you are also selling the same product as single items so premises may simply decide to stop offering singles and stock multipacks only – meaning customers may, in fact, be forced to buy more than they desire.

“The new rules also require promotional and advertising material of alcoholic products to be contained within a designated display area in stores. Furthermore, the rules state that advertising cannot be used within 200 metres of the store premises.”

McGowan, Licensing Solicitor at Lindsays, continued: “The ban on alcohol advertising within 200 metres may have all sorts of bizarre consequences; for example, this could affect shop names – if they contain reference to alcohol in their titles and on a literal interpretation it could even affect delivery vans dropping off stock to the premises.”

The Society also raised concerns on competition law issues that could arise, as the legislation progressed through Scottish Parliament last year.

McGowan explains: “As this Act will apply to operators in Scotland only, the Society is concerned that this change in legislation has the potential to create two separate markets within the United Kingdom for alcohol products. It could lead to shoppers purchasing in England and Wales to take advantage of savings not available in Scotland.

“This is a real possibility in view of the existence of internet retailing and ease of transportation between Scotland and England.”

The Scottish Government has issued guidance on the new rules which appears to suggest further secondary legislation may be introduced to address these difficulties.

ENDS 29 September 2011

Notes to editors

New rules affecting alcohol promotions in supermarkets will include:

• A ban on multipack discounts – meaning a multipack can only be sold for the same price as when buying the items individually.

• Buy one get one free and similar “quantity discounts” will be banned

• Promotional material such as advertising of alcoholic products can only be used within the designated alcohol display area inside the premises and cannot be used within 200 metres of the boundary of the premises

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Journalists can contact Emily Young on 0131 476 8204 or Val McEwan on 0131 226 8884. For the out of hours service please call 0131 226 7411.

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Contact: Emily Young
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