Competition & Markets Authority
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New advice on high-strength alcohol schemes

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has today issued new advice to retailers about competition law and high-strength alcohol schemes.


These schemes, which are run by local councils, encourage retailers to remove certain high-strength alcohol products from sale for public health and safety reasons.

The 60-second summary and accompanying open letter provide retailers with an at-a-glance guide on what action to take to manage the competition law risks should they be asked to join a high-strength alcohol scheme.

Dan Moore, CMA Project Director, said:

We know that some retailers are being asked to join these schemes and are unsure of what they can and cannot do in terms of competition law.

This new advice is intended to help retailers to remain within the law when they decide whether or not to take part in a scheme, by providing a series of practical examples of dos and don’ts.

In particular, it advises retailers that they can make an independent decision to join a scheme and stop selling high-strength alcohol but they must not discuss this or agree to this in co-operation with other retailers.

In addition to this advice, the CMA has also been working with the Local Government Association to help ensure that local councils do not ask businesses to break the law or risk putting them in a position where they may do so.

Notes for editors

  1. The advice and open letter published today supplement more detailed guidance issued by the CMA on local authority initiatives in December 2014.
  2. The CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. It is an independent non-ministerial government department with responsibility for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and the regulated industries and enforcing competition and consumer law. From 1 April 2014 it took over the functions of the Competition Commission and the competition and certain consumer functions of the Office of Fair Trading, as amended by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.
  3. For more information see our homepage or follow us on Twitter@CMAgovukFlickr and LinkedIn.
  4. Enquiries should be directed to Simon Belgard (, 020 3738 6472).
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