The Department of Trade and Industry [DTI] has published a
consultation document which sets out the Government’s
proposals to strengthen consumer protection against being served
short measures of draft beer and cider on licensed premises.
This consultation is the result of earlier
consultations with those trade and consumer organisations. In the
White Paper “Modern Markets: Confident Consumers (Cm 4410,
July 1999) the Government gave a commitment to clarify the law in
order to strengthen consumer protection against short measures of
draft beer and cider. The DTI consultation paper “Fair
Measure (July 1999) on modernising the regulation of goods sold by
weight or measure invited views on whether beer and cider measures
should be defined as 100% liquid or not less than 95% liquid. Most
consumer organisations argued that a pint must be 100% liquid on
average or not less than 100% liquid. Most trade respondents argued
that serving 100% liquid on average would result in increased costs
to the great majority of licensees, and that these costs would be
passed on to consumers by an increase in the retail price of beer
and cider. The trade argued that any change to the legislation
should focus on giving statutory backing to the trade’s
guidelines, as published in 1993, which recommended that the
consumer should be served not less than 95% liquid.
The current consultation paper assesses the pros
and cons of each option. It deals with such issues as the benefits
to consumer and brewers, the equal competition between low froth
draft beers and ciders with frothier draft beers and ciders and
bottled beer and cider, but also with re-training and re-equiping
of licensed premises, and increased costs to licensees.
The options put forward for consultation are as
- Option 1: that a pint must be 100% liquid on average is
estimated as an annual cost (to licensees) and benefit (for brewers
and consumers) of £133 million.
- Option 2: that the pint must be not less than 100% liquid is
estimated to total cost £200 million and
- Option 3: that the pint must be not less than 95% liquid, is
estimated at £38 million per annum. However, in conjunction with
this option, there is the proviso that consumers who are served
less than 100% liquid may request may request a top-up. This would
be an additional cost under this option for retailers who currently
do not serve 100% liquid minimum, and this is estimated to cost £95
million (in addition to the £38 million identified above).
The DTI has decided to give statutory backing to
Option 3 as already implemented in the trade’s guidelines.
The DTI’s main concern in supporting Option 3 is to avoid
imposing any disproportionate burden on licensees, particularly
small independent pubs. The DTI has also been concerned to avoid
any increase in the retail price of draft beer and cider, as this
would counter any intended benefit of strengthening consumer
protection against short measures. The compromise between Options 1
and 2 and Option 3 that the DTI has decided on in giving statutory
backing to the trade’s recommended 95% liquid minimum is to
also leave the option to consumers to request top-ups if they are
dissatisfied with the quality of draft beer or cider they are
The DTI appears to have taken a balanced view and,
following this consultation, which ends 1st July 2002, it is
intended that the proposal will be implemented by an amendment to
Article 2 of the Weights and Measures (Intoxicating Liquor) Order
1988 (SI 1988/2039), to come into force 3 months after Parliament
has affirmed the amending Order.
It is clear that Option 3 would result in the most
beneficial outcome to both consumers and licensees; however, the
further, “top-up provision should be restricted to those
instances where the consumer receives less than 100% liquid, and
this should be clearly stated.
The consultation may be found on the DTI website at
For further information, please contact Jessica
Burt by telephone on +44(0)20 7367 3589 or by e-mail at email@example.com.