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Service station(s) breach Dutch alcohol legislation

Five service stations decided to sell alcohol despite a legal ban. One of them has therefore been fined by the Dutch Food & Safety Authority. Receiving the fine was the goal that the association of service station owners (BETA) intended to reach. The association wishes to litigate at the European Court of Justice by using the fine.
The sale of alcohol at service stations is prohibited since 2000. The prohibition is to be found art.22-1 sub-a of the Licensing and Catering Act (in Dutch). Twelve service stations have received a similar fine for breaching this article in the last three years.
The association announced in October that they would proceed to this action. Owners of service stations find the ban unlawful: they claim to have lost millions of euros, for they are the only sector that is not allowed to sell low-alcoholic beverages. It is furthermore possible to drink a glass of wine at motorway service areas, just as service stations in surrounding countries are allowed to sell beer and wine. The association has attempted several times, to no avail, for the ban to be lifted before proceeding with this action.
The action could not find support with the Government, Traffic Safety Netherlands, the STIVA and liquor stores. Immediately after the fine of € 900, – was imposed on the service station, the sale of alcohol was however discontinued. After all the receiving of the fine, means that the actual goal of the association can be pursued: to ask the European Court of Justice whether the ban is unlawful.
Ebba Hoogenraad – advertising law attorney

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