Al­co­hol ap­peal goes to Supreme Court

Daily Record - - NEWS - CATHY GOR­DON re­porters@dai­

THE UK’s high­est court is to rule on a chal­lenge over plans to use min­i­mum pric­ing for al­co­hol in Scot­land.

Seven Supreme Court jus­tices will an­nounce their find­ings today af­ter hear­ing from the Scotch Whisky As­so­ci­a­tion that min­i­mum unit pric­ing is “dis­pro­por­tion­ate” and il­le­gal un­der European law.

A lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the SWA ar­gued at a hear­ing in Lon­don in July that there were bet­ter ways to achieve the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment’s aim of im­prov­ing pub­lic health.

The fresh chal­lenge came af­ter the Court of Ses­sion in Ed­in­burgh, Scot­land’s top civil court, re­jected the SWA’s ap­peal against the mea­sure in Oc­to­ber 2016. But judges at the same court later gave the whisky body per­mis­sion to take their fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

The le­gal wran­gle over the pro­pos­als be­gan in 2012.

The SWA say al­ter­na­tive pric­ing mea­sures would be less dis­rup­tive to free trade and would have less of an im­pact on com­pe­ti­tion across the EU sin­gle mar­ket, while still achiev­ing the aims of the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to im­prove pub­lic health.

Health Sec­re­tary Shona Ro­bi­son said: “Al­co­hol is 60 per cent more af­ford­able in the UK than it was in 1980 and al­co­hol mis­use costs Scot­land £3.6bil­lion a year.

“There is strong ev­i­dence that tack­ling price helps re­duce con­sump­tion and re­lated harm.”

HARM Shona Ro­bi­son

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