Minimum pricing case dismissed

3rd May, 2013 by Andy Young

The legal challenge brought by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and other European spirits producers against the introduction of a minimum unit price for alcohol in Scotland, has been dismissed.

Whisky bottles

Whisky bottles

The judgment was delivered by Lord Doherty, who heard the case at Scotland’s Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The main grounds on which the SWA challenged the Alcohol Minimum Pricing Act 2012, were that it breached the legislative powers of the Scottish Parliament and that the Act was incompatible with EU law.

Lord Doherty rejected these claims, a statement read: “Lord Doherty refused the petition, holding that the Act was not outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament; and that the proposed Order setting a minimum price was within devolved competence and within the powers of the Scottish Ministers.

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 held that in so far as the measures had equivalent effect to quantitative restrictions on imports (Article 34 TFEU) they were justified on the grounds of the protection of the life and health of humans (Article 36).”

Following the announcement the SWA said that it would appeal the decision.

CEO Gavin Hewitt 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.”

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