Liverpool Pubwatch denies price cartel

By Paul Collins

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Licensees, Price, Public house, Alcoholic beverage

450 pubs have agreed not to sell drinks below a certain level in Liverpool
450 pubs have agreed not to sell drinks below a certain level in Liverpool
The co-ordinator of Liverpool Pubwatch has denied the "gentleman's agreement" by licensees not to sell drinks below set prices is a cartel. More than...

The co-ordinator of Liverpool Pubwatch has denied the "gentleman's agreement" by licensees not to sell drinks below set prices is a cartel.

More than 450 pubs and clubs have an agreement with the police and Chamber of Commerce to act responsibly over the pricing and sales of alcohol.

The British Beer & Pub Association had asked for the agreement to end over fears that it breaches competition law.

But Joe Curran, Pubwatch representative on Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, said: "The agreement is not a cartel. Nobody is forced into anything. We just recommend that licensees don't sell beer for less than £1, or bottles for less than £1.50, and that there is no need for drinks promotions at weekends.

"It's up to licensees, though. But they are all in business for a reason, so selling cheap alcohol makes no sense."

Curran said that with no regulation, a rise in violence would occur. "In the mid '90s licensees were offering crazy deals, and the city was carnage. We don't need to go back to that," he said.

That claim was echoed by John Hogan, chief inspector of Merseyside Police.

"If self-regulation is illegal, and there is no legislation in place, then licensees can lower prices as much as they want. That will lead to more violence or sexual offences. If that happens out in the street, we can't take action against licensees," he said.

MA legal editor Peter Coulson warned the authorities and licensees in Liverpool to tread carefully.

"Although they may have good intentions, recommending minimum pricing is illegal. Encouraging licensees not to sell below a set price leads to business cartels forming, which is against the law."

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