Scottish publicans face the prospect of a £20m rise in licensing costs after the Scottish Parliament decided not to block new charges.
Last week the Scottish Parliament's Justice Committee agreed to defer final consideration of new fees, set to be introduced under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, until today.
However at a meeting today officials chose not to challenge the price hike, leaving the door open for the higher charges to be introduced.
Patrick Browne, chief executive of the Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA), said: "The licensed trade in Scotland will be disappointed by this decision.
"It seems to have been approved simply because the Government tabled the motion so late that it couldn't be rejected without delaying licensing reform."
Browne said the decision would mean a largely unnecessary increase in costs at a tough time for the industry.
By Christopher Walton
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