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Scotland's minimum price plan referred to European Court

Published:  01 May, 2014

The Scottish government's plan to introduce a minimum price for alcohol has been referred to the European Court of Justice.

The news came after the Scotch Whisky Association appealed the government's decision, arguing that it was in breach of European law.

Lord Eassie, delivering the opinion of the Inner House of the Court of Sessions, said there was an "evident area of uncertainty", over where jurisdiction for setting a minimum price lies. He added that it "would be of help to have the guidance of the Court of Justice of the European Union" on the matter.

David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, said:  "We are pleased that the Court of Session in Edinburgh is referring the minimum unit pricing case to the Court of Justice of the European Union. From the outset we said that we believed MUP was contrary to European Union law and that it was likely in the end to go to the European Court.

"We also believe MUP would be ineffective in tackling alcohol misuse and would damage the Scotch Whisky industry in the UK and overseas."

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association's chief executive Miles Beale said: "The WSTA welcomes the decision by the Inner House of the Court of Session to refer the minimum unit pricing legal challenge directly to the European Court of Justice. 

"We believe MUP is contrary to European law, ineffective and would punish responsible drinkers, and that the European Court of Justice is the most appropriate court to consider its legality.

"In the meantime the industry is committed to working in partnership with government and others to support policies which are proven to tackle alcohol misuse effectively."