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Scottish whisky industry to appeal minimum alcohol pricing in UK Supreme Court

DBR Staff Writer Published 21 November 2016

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and Spirits Europe have decided to appeal in the UK Supreme Court against minimum unit pricing (MUP) for alcohol in Scotland.

Last month, Scotland’s Supreme Court, the Court of Session had given a decision against the SWA.

The decision followed a long legal resistance put up by the SWA against the government policy which culminates in a minimum unit price (MUP) of 50p.

The association maintained that it had strong exception to the policy while claiming that it was incompatible with the European Union law. It also added that the MUP policy is expected to be ineffective and hoped that the UK Supreme Court hears its appeal soon.

Scotch Whisky Association acting chief executive Julie Hesketh-Laird said that the decision to go to the UK Supreme Court was not taken after careful consideration of The Court of Session ruling.

"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."

spiritsEUROPE director general Paul Skehan said: "We acknowledge and share the Scottish Government’s concerns about these harms caused by excessive drinking, but we do not believe MUP – a theoretical computer-based model, whose predicted outcomes have changed many times - to be an appropriate response.”

After the ruling from the Court of Session in October, SWA said that the minimum unit pricing will be a restriction on trade while adding that there were more effective methods of tackling misuses of alcohol by the government.

Earlier this month, a survey from Nielsen revealed that half of Scotland’s alcohol did not match the upcoming minimum pricing legislation. The survey said that Scotch whisky needed to have its prices go up by 20% on average to meet the 50p per unit threshold.


Image: The SWA has appealed to the UK Supreme Court against MUP. Photo: courtesy of the Scotch Whisky Association.