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SWA takes minimum pricing appeal to Supreme Court

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) is taking its fight against minimum unit pricing for alcohol in Scotland to the UK’s highest court today.

The SWA will appeal minimum unit pricing for alcohol at the Supreme Court today

The SWA’s case will be heard by the Supreme Court in London after the trade body was granted permission to elevate its plight at a hearing in Edinburgh last year.

MSPs agreed legislation to implement a minimum unit price for alcohol in Scotland in 2012, but the SWA believed the proposals were illegal under European law.

The European Court of Justice endorsed this notion in 2015, arguing the Scottish initiative was “likely to breach single market rules and distort competition when less trade restrictive measures are available”.

Karen Betts, SWA chief executive, said: “Minimum pricing schemes amount to non-tariff barriers and this is of real concern to our industry.

“Were other governments to follow the Scottish government’s lead, the Scotch whisky industry – which is an important part of the Scottish economy – would be damaged and with it the jobs and communities which rely on the industry’s continued success. This risk of how we are able to trade internationally is now compounded by the uncertainties surrounding Brexit.

“We are encouraged that evidence shows that alcohol-related harm is on a downward trend in Scotland and more broadly across the UK. But we also recognise that significant challenges remain in tackling alcohol-related harm.

“We have worked with organisations across Scotland including the Scottish government, Police Scotland, civil society organisations, local authorities and alcohol and drug partnerships addressing issues from underage drinking to the impact of alcohol misuse on families. We remain willing to work with new partners, inside or outside government, on these or other programmes into the future.”

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