Minimum pricing legal challenge dismissed

3rd May, 2013 by Andy Young

A legal challenge by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and other European producers to the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol in Scotland has been dismissed at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Scotland flagThe challenge by the SWA and European wine and spirit producers was brought in response to the Scottish government’s introduction of a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol.

The case was heard by judge Lord Doherty at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland’s highest civil court. Lord Doherty ruled that the legislation was not outside the competence of the Scottish Parliament, and that it is within the devolved competence and powers of Scottish ministers.

The judgement 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.

“It determined that the national authorities retained competence to introduce minimum pricing notwithstanding the fact that there had been a degree of EU common organisation of the market in respect of wine, other fermented products, and agriculturally produced ethyl alcohol. The measures were not prohibited by, nor did they undermine, that Regulation.”

The Scottish Parliament passed the Alcohol Minimum Pricing Bill last spring and ministers are committed to the policy, which they say will save lives.

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.”

Under the new rules, the ­cheapest bottle of wine would be £4.69 and a four-pack of lager would cost at least £3.52. The SWA has 21 days to appeal the decision.

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