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Scotch Whisky Association allowed to appeal minimum alcohol pricing proposals to UK top court

Published 22 December 2016

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has been given permission to take its appeal against minimum pricing for alcohol in Scotland to the UK Supreme Court.

The Court of Sessions in Edinburgh has granted permission to the trade organisation to appeal against the pricing which was introduced by Members of Scottish Parliament (MSP) at Holyrood in 2012.

SWA plans to appeal against the pricing, as it believes that it contravenes European Union’s regulation law.

In October, the Court of Session had rejected SWA’s appeal against the pricing policy.

But, now the permission to appeal comes as the next step in the legal battle over the pricing policy, which was introduced to tackle Scotland’s drinking problem.

Scotch Whisky Association acting CEO Julie Hesketh-Laird said:  ''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. 

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

The law which was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2012, states that retailers could not sell alcohol below a minimum price of 50p per unit.

The BBC reporetd that with the new law in place, a bottle of cheap wine would cost about £4.69, a pack of four cans of 500ml beer would cost about £4 and a bottle of whisky would cost around £14.

As per the Scottish government, health professionals, police and alcohol charities, the pricing could help address alcohol problem in the region.

While SWA is preparing to go to the highest court in Britain against the pricing, Alcohol Focus Scotland CEO Alison Douglas noted that heavy drinkers buy cheap and strong alcohol and minimum pricing can act as deterrence to alcohol abuse.

She said: "It is so frustrating that the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) will not accept that this is the end of the road for their misguided and damaging legal action.

"In the four and a half years since the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly to pass minimum unit pricing, at least 4,500 Scots have died of alcohol-related diseases.

"It’s time for the Scotch Whisky Association to put self-interest aside and give up this fight. Diageo, Pernod Ricard and other SWA members should not be allowed to dictate how Scotland protects and improves public health."

Image: SWA to appeal against minimum alcohol pricing in UK’s Supreme Court. Photo: Courtesy of Scotch Whisky Association.