SWA appeal against MUP proceeds to Supreme Court

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has been given permission to progress its appeal against the introduction of minimum unit pricing in Scotland to the Supreme Court.

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The Scottish government approved plans to introduce MUP on alcohol, which would see a minimum of 50 pence charged per unit of alcohol sold, in 2012.

However the plans are yet to be imposed and have long been the subject of debate and resistance by the SWA, which has argued that such a measure would not reduce the number of hazardous drinkers in Scotland and was in breach of European law.

This was confirmed by the European Court of Justice last year, which agreed that Scotland’s plan to introduce Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol is illegal because it breaches EU trade laws.

Despite this, in October of this year Edinburgh’s 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 plans, with the trade body swiftly announcing it would appeal the decision.

This week, judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh approved the SWA’s plans to take its appeal against minimum unit pricing in Scotland to the Supreme Court – Britain’s highest court.

“We have today received notification from the Court of Session in Edinburgh that our application for leave to appeal to the UK Supreme Court regarding minimum unit pricing (MUP) has been granted,” said Julie Hesketh-Laird, Scotch Whisky Association acting chief executive.

“We now hope the appeal can be heard quickly by the Supreme Court, with a final ruling next year.”

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.

Under the plans, the cheapest bottle of wine would be £4.69, a four pack of 500ml cans of beer would cost at least £4 and a bottle of whisky could not be sold for less than £14.

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