SWA to appeal minimum unit price ruling

18th November, 2016 by Arabella Mileham

The Scotch Whisky Association has announced it will appeal the decision by the Scottish Court of Session to allow minimum unit pricing in Scotland to go ahead.

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In October, the Court of Session rejected a challenge to minimum unit pricing brought by the Scottish Whisky Association (SWA) paving the way for the government to push forward with the controversial policy that was originally given the go-ahead by MSPs in Holyrood in 2012.

Today, Julie Hesketh-Laird, acting chief executive of the SWA, said that having considered the ruling from the Court of Session on minimum unit pricing of alcohol, and reflected on its options, it had decided to appeal to the UK Supreme Court.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly,” she added. “It comes after wide consultation with our member companies and other parties to the case to see whether there is an alternative way forward. However, given our strong view that minimum pricing is incompatible with EU law and likely to be ineffective, we now hope that our appeal can be heard quickly in the UK Supreme Court.

“Having studied the ruling, we believe the Scottish court has not properly reviewed the legislation’s compatibility with EU law as required by the European Court’s judgment. We remain committed to working closely with the Scottish Government and everyone else who shares our common goal of tackling alcohol misuse. By working effectively in partnership we hope the long-term trend decline in alcohol-related harms in Scotland will continue.”

The SWA has long opposed plans to impose minimum unit pricing on alcohol arguing that it would not reduce the number of hazardous drinkers in Scotland and was in breach of European law. When the court ruling was announced on 21 October, the SWA’s then chairman, David Frost, said it continued to believe MUP was a restriction on trade and there are more effective ways of tackling alcohol misuse, which the SWA was committed to addressing.

A recent study by Nielsen found that 69% of spirits in Scotland by volume are currently sold below the 50p per unit threshold, ahead of beer (67%), cider (51%), and wine (3.4%), with blended Scotch and vodka likely to be hit hardest.

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