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My View: Weights and measures legislation is not draconian

Published:  18 January, 2007

The ruling on Selfridges' Enomatic machine might seem draconian to some, but as a body that advises on such weights and measures legislation, we see the sound reasoning behind this.

As the law stands, wine sold by the glass must be served in specified quantities: 125ml, 175ml or multiples thereof.

The reason why we advised that the Enomatic should not be used at Selfridges to measure wine - particularly smaller, 'sample size' measures - comes down to consumer protection.

With the Enomatic, the customer has no way of checking that

what he or she is buying is dispensed in the quantity they have paid for.

Consumers have very different perceptions of what makes a regular serving of wine. Retailers could take advantage of this lack of awareness by using such unapproved equipment.

Weights and measures law has its origins in the Magna Carta, which stated, "There shall be a standard measure of wine ... throughout the Kingdom." This developed, over the centuries, into the Weights and Measures Act of 1988.

While I agree that the Enomatic machine is an innovative product, and one that is perhaps restricted by the law as it stands, it is hard to see how you could change the law while maintaining the current high levels of consumer protection.

Robert Kidd is policy officer at LACORS, the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services.