Minimum pricing: Challenge to Scottish alcohol legislation fails

  • Post category:World News

A legal challenge to the Scottish government’s plans to introduce minimum pricing per unit of alcohol has failed.

From the BBC

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) took action against the proposal, which it said would breach European law, after it was passed by MSPs.

A Court of Session ruling dismissed the action and said plans to introduce 50p per unit minimum pricing were legal.

Lord Doherty said the policy was within the powers of Scottish ministers and not incompatible with EU law.

A summary of his decision said: “The court ruled that the Acts of Union were not an impediment to the minimum pricing measures.

“The court also decided that the measures were not incompatible with EU law.”

The SWA has 21 days to appeal the ruling.

The ruling clears the way for the introduction of the minimum pricing policy, which the Scottish government put on hold until after the conclusion of the legal challenge by the SWA and several European wine and spirits bodies.

Under the plans, the  ­cheapest bottle of wine would be  £4.69 and a four-pack of lager would cost at least  £3.52.

The SWA had warned the measure would set a precedent where health concerns were allowed to interfere with the free trade of goods and services.

Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil said: “We welcome today’s favourable opinion from the Court of Session on minimum unit pricing of alcohol.

“We have always believed minimum unit pricing is the right thing to do to tackle Scotland’s problematic relationship with alcohol.

“Minimum unit pricing will target cheap alcohol relative to strength that is favoured by hazardous and harmful drinkers and which contributes to much of the alcohol-related harm we see in Scotland.”

‘Unambiguous judgement’

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon added: “I hope that a policy that will save lives can now be implemented.”

Alcohol Focus Scotland called on the Scottish Whisky Association not to pursue any further legal action.

Chief executive Dr Evelyn Gillan said: “The Court of Session has issued a clear, unambiguous judgement, and finds no grounds for the drinks industry’s action against the Scottish government.

“The alcohol industry has consistently opposed minimum unit pricing as they oppose any measures that are likely to be effective.”

Thankfully, today the public interest has prevailed over the profits of the big alcohol corporations.”

MSPs passed The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act 2012 in May 2012, setting the 50p minimum unit price as part of an effort to tackle alcohol misuse.