3rd May, 2013 by Andy Young
Spirits Europe and the Scotch Whisky Association have announced they will appeal the Scottish Court of Session ruling on minimum unit pricing for alcohol.
This morning judge Lord Doherty announced that he was dismissing the legal challenge brought by the Scotch Whisky Association and other European wine and spirits producers.
Following Lord Doherty’s announcement Spirits Europe, the representative body for the spirits industry at European level comprising 30 associations and eight multinationals, announced it would appeal the ruling.
Paul Skehan, director general of Spirits Europe, said: “We are disappointed by this decision and will appeal it, believing that it contravenes not only 30 years of European case law on minimum unit pricing (MUP) but also the views expressed by the European Commission and 11 Member States. We are confident that, on appeal, the measure will be proven to be illegal and counter to the rules underpinning the single European market.
“We are surprised that the Court decided it was unnecessary to refer any question of EU law to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling, considering the existing legal background.
“Not only do we believe the policy to be illegal, we also firmly believe that MUP would:
– Be ineffective in tackling alcohol misuse – it will not reduce the number of people drinking at hazardous and harmful levels;
– Penalise responsible drinkers and put more pressure on household budgets;
– Discriminate between companies in the market;
– Set a potentially dangerous precedent for third countries to try to block European products from entering their markets, resulting in a very negative impact on the European drinks industry, the single largest agro-food export of the EU (€10 billion exports in 2012).”
Gavin Hewitt, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association also expressed his disappointment at the ruling, he said: “We are disappointed our petition for judicial review has been refused. We are surprised at the ruling in light of 30 years of European case law on minimum unit pricing (MUP). We will be appealing against this decision and we remain confident of our position.
“The view from Europe is very different to that expressed by the court and we are not alone in having concerns about the legality of MUP. We are joined in our legal action by Spirits Europe and Comite Vins. The European Commission and more than 10 member states have expressed their concerns that MUP contravenes European Union trading rules and their opposition to the Scottish proposals.
“We have consistently opposed MUP so our decision to appeal should not come as a surprise. The Scottish Government has agreed to not introduce MUP until the legal process, including appeals, is complete.”