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Alcohol sachets makers lose case: High Court dismisses stay order

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The High Court has dismissed a stay order which Alcohol Manufacturers Association obtained to stop government from enforcing regulations which bar packaging of liquor in sachets.

This follows an application by Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to discharge leave for judicial review and vacate a stay order on the implementation of Liquor (Production, Marketing and Distribution) Regulations.

The manufacturers were against the MBS standard, called MBS 210, which states that spirits shall be filled in clean glass bottles that do not affect its quality.

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The Daily Times has seen a ruling on the matter by Judge Ken Manda of the Commercial Division of the High Court.

“It is my finding that the applicants in this matter were actually consulted before the Liquor Regulations (2015) were promulgated. The applicants did in fact take part in the meetings which took place prior to the gazetting of the regulations,” reads part of Judge Manda’s ruling.

It adds: “It is thus in view of this that I was persuaded to find that the applicants didn’t have any cause to stand on. It is thus in this regard that I will vacate the leave for judicial review and lift the order of stay.”

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MBS and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development filed three grounds for the application: that leave for judicial review was not made promptly, in that three months had elapsed from the date on which the grounds for the application first arose; that the applicants were guilty of suppressing material facts; that the applicant has an alternative remedy which was never exhausted.

Liquor regulations incorporating MBS210 of 1990 were published on April 30 2015.

On September 9, 2015, Alcohol Manufacturers Association took out a motion for judicial review for the court to declare or order that the decision of government to promulgate Liquor (Production, Marketing and Distribution) Regulations should be quashed.

In the matter, lawyer Gabriel Kambale represented MBS while Nevason Chisiza from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) represented the Ministry of Local Government.

The manufacturers also had two lawyers one of whom was Khumbo Soko.

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