The legal battle over minimum pricing starts in earnest next week

The legal battle over minimum pricing starts in earnest next week

The UK government, as well as the Scottish government, will give evidence in a landmark six-day court hearing on minimum pricing starting in Edinburgh next week, just-drinks has learnt.

Ailsa Carmichael, a QC who will represent the Wesmintster administration, will respond to arguments from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) over minimum pricing at Edinburgh's Court of Session. The judicial review starts on Tuesday (23 Ocotober) and is due to conclude on 30 October.

However, a ruling from the court is not expected for around two to three months, just-drinks understands.

The SWA, which launched the action in July in parallel with a legal challenge in Europe, is expected to argue that minimum pricing:

  • will be ineffective in tackling alcohol misuse;
  • is illegal;
  • will penalise responsible drinkers and put more pressure on household budgets, and
  • will damage the Scotch whisky industry.

It will be joined in arguing the case by the European Spirits Organisation (CEPS) and Comité Vins (CEEV). 

The Scottish government, which has used minimum pricing as its flagship health policy, has consistently argued that the move is legal and is needed to tackle the country's alcohol issues.

Meanwhile, a UK minister told a conference in London yesterday that the Government still believes minimum pricing is legal under EU law, despite recent concerns. The UK Prime Minister has indicated his support for a GBP0.40 (US$0.65) minimum unit price as part of a wider alcohol strategy