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    Deposit Return Scheme – independent retailer wins judicial review case

    Abdul Majid MBE

    The Scottish Grocers’ Federation (SGF) has welcomed the news that independent convenience retailer, Abdul Majid MBE, has won his judicial review case against Circularity Scotland Limited (CSL) – who were appointed by the Scottish Government in 2021 to administer Scotland’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS).

    Mr. Majid had been challenging the legality of the retailer handling fees which CSL were seeking to impose on retailers.

    “The court of session has held that the way that the Scottish Government and Circularity Scotland had set up the Deposit Return Scheme was unlawful and did not comply with the regulations made by the Scottish Parliament,” said SGF chief executive Dr Pete Cheema OBE, Commenting on the judgment. “CSL had no powers to set the fees that it sought to impose on retailers and even if it had, then they had still got it wrong by trying to impose a flat fee on all retailers, despite the difference in costs to the operators.

    Deposit Return Scheme – independent retailer wins judicial review case
    SGF Chief Executive, Dr Pete Cheema OBE

    “This decision essentially stops the DRS progressing in its current form – it’s hugely disappointing, however, that it took a court action by an independent retailer when SGF had tried for some considerable time to make the Scottish Government listen to those directly affected – indeed, we had personally informed Lorna Slater that CSL were breaching their license but she refused to support us when it was obvious that we were right. Also, we had warned the Scottish Government that it was never industry led. Despite representing the largest number of Return Point Operators, our voice was consistently not listened to. SGF is hopeful that the UK Government will make this legal position binding when they introduce the UK-wide DRS scheme in October 2025.”

    Following the announcement by the Court of Session that he had won his case, independent retailer Abdul Majid MBE said: “I am absolutely delighted to have won my case, one which I feel in many ways was not just for myself but for the many other retailers who would have been negatively impacted if CSL had been able to proceed with their plans for the setting of the retail handling fee. From the outset it was clear that there was an issue over the legality of the retailer handling fees but it is not as if this was not pointed out to them.

    “The Scottish Government and CSL were asked to address the concerns of retailers around this matter to avoid the concern, confusion, and uncertainty that it would generate, but to no avail despite all the best efforts which were made, in particular by Dr Pete Cheema and the Scottish Grocers’ Federation. I hope the UK Government take note of this decision and use it to avoid a similar situation arising in any UK-wide scheme.”

    The Court of Session had granted its permission for the Judicial Review petition brought by Abdul Majid & Son Limited to proceed following a Court hearing on 15 December 2022. The decision is available on the Scottish court service website at: https://www.scotcourts.gov.uk/search-judgments/court-of-session.

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