BEVVY LEVY IS COM­ING!

Courts kick out bid to halt min­i­mum pric­ing

Evening Times - - FRONT PAGE - By STE­WART PATER­SON Po­lit­i­cal Cor­re­spon­dent

MIN­I­MUM pric­ing of al­co­hol can now go ahead af­ter the fi­nal court bid to block it was thrown out.

The Supreme Court re­jected an ap­peal which ar­gued the plan breached EU trade Laws.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment said it will now look to im­ple­ment the pol­icy quickly.

THE Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is now free to im­pose min­i­mum pric­ing on al­co­hol af­ter the Supreme Court re­jected a long run­ning le­gal bid to block it.

The Scotch Whisky As­so­ci­a­tion took its case to the Supreme Court, the fi­nal stage in the le­gal process, to stop the plan to im­pose a 50p per unit min­i­mum price.

The Court today re­jected the ap­peal and said the Gov­ern­ment’s plan was ap­pro­pri­ate and within EU law.

The judge­ment said min­i­mum pric­ing tar­geted the health haz­ards of cheap al­co­hol in a way the tax sys­tem would not.

Seven Supreme Court judges were unan­i­mous in their de­ci­sion.

The Act was first passed in 2012 but a se­ries of le­gal chal­lenges by the SWA through the courts has de­layed it be­ing put in place.

The SWA ar­gued it was con­trary to EU law on re­strict­ing trade.

How­ever, the Court de­cided it was com­pat­i­ble and that the ob­jec­tive of the law was “le­git­i­mate and ap­pro­pri­ate”.

Stud­ies have es­ti­mated al­co­hol re­lated deaths would fall by about 120 per year af­ter 20 years of min­i­mum pric­ing and hos­pi­tal ad­mis­sions would fall by 2000 a year.

Shona Ro­bi­son, Health Sec­re­tary, said the gov­ern­ment would be look­ing to bring in the pol­icy as soon as pos­si­ble.

Ms Ro­bi­son said: “This is a his­toric and far-reach­ing judg­ment and a land­mark mo­ment in our am­bi­tion to turn around Scot­land’s trou­bled re­la­tion­ship with al­co­hol.

“This has been a long jour­ney and in the five years since the Act was passed, al­co­hol re­lated deaths in Scot­land have in­creased. With al­co­hol avail­able for sale at just 18 pence a unit, that death toll re­mains un­ac­cept­ably high.

The Scotch Whisky As­so­ci­a­tion said it ac­cepted the rul­ing but warned j obs must be pro­tected.

Karen Betts, SWA chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “We will now look to the Scot­tish and UK gov­ern- ments to sup­port the in­dus­try against the neg­a­tive ef­fects of trade bar­ri­ers be­ing raised in over­seas mar­kets that dis­crim­i­nate against Scotch Whisky as a con­se­quence of min­i­mum pric­ing, and to ar­gue for fair com­pe­ti­tion on our be­half.

“This is vi­tal in or­der that the jobs and in­vest­ment the in­dus­try pro­vides in Scot­land are not dam­aged. At home, we hope to see an ob­jec­tive as­sess­ment of the im­pact of MUP.”

The Supreme Court re­jected the le­gal chal­lenge to min­i­mum pric­ing of al­co­hol

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