Sacha Lord forces government to drop substantial meal rule in ‘landmark victory’

Sacha Lord

The government has been forced to drop its ‘substantial meal’ rule following a legal challenge by Greater Manchester’s night-time economy advisor Sacha Lord.

Lord brought a court case against health secretary Matt Hancock claiming the restrictions were “discriminatory towards certain sections of society.”

The substantial meal rule had been introduced when the tier system was brought in last year, and meant that alcohol could only be served alongside food forcing the closure of thousands of wet-led pubs and bars.

Judges have now ruled in favour of Lord, who is seeking to bring forward the reopening of hospitality businesses in England to align with the reopening of non-essential retail on 12 April, when the government has said hospitality will only be able to open outdoor areas.

In a statement Lord said: “This is a landmark victory for the hospitality industry. We are pleased with this judgment and that the court case compelled the government to remove the substantial meal requirement in their recent roadmap.

“We have continually stated that this measure actively discriminates against, and unfairly impacts, the poorest and most disadvantaged sectors of our society, and was lacking in scientific evidence to support it.

“We will continue to work with those most affected across the night-time economy and hospitality sectors to ensure all measures imposed on the industries going forward are fair, not only to the operators and businesses struggling to survive, but to the general public.

“My legal team and I are already in discussions regarding the lack of evidence to justify the delay of the reopening of hospitality compared with non-essential retail and this is an area we will be updating on in the weeks to come.”

Oliver Wright, a partner at JMW Solicitors, who represented Lord, added: “This case highlighted the lack of real scientific evidence to support the government’s policy, and their failure to understand its discriminatory effects on BAME communities.”

Lord said he would donate all court costs recovered from the health secretary evenly between Hospitality Action and the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity.