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Independent retailer wins judicial review case over deposit return scheme.

Posted on in Business News

Independent convenience retailer Abdul Majid has won a judicial review case against Circularity Scotland, which was appointed by the Scottish government in 2021 to administer Scotland’s deposit return scheme (DRS).

Recycling deposits

Majid had been challenging the legality of the retailer handling fees that Circularity Scotland was seeking to levy on retailers. The DRS has since been put on hold by the Scottish government and Circularity Scotland forced into administration.

Commenting on the judgement, Pete Cheema, Chief Executive of The Scottish Grocers’ Federation,
said:

“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.

“Circularity Scotland had no powers to set the fees that it sought to impose on retailers and even if it had, they had still got it wrong by trying to impose a flat fee on all retailers, despite the difference in costs to the operators.

“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 [circular economy minister] Lorna Slater that Circularity Scotland were breaching their licence, but she refused to support us when it was obvious, 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, Majid said: “I am absolutely delighted to have won my case, one which in many ways was not just for myself but for the many other retailers who would have been negatively impacted if Circularity Scotland had been able to proceed with their plans for the setting of the retail handling fee.

“From the outset, it was clear 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 Circularity Scotland 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. I hope the UK government take note of this decision and use it to avoid a similar situation arising in any UK-wide scheme.”

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