The Australian Federal government is facing a legal case by some of the countries leading brewers for A$100 million ($55.15m) in disputed beer excise.

Lion Nathan, Carlton United Breweries, Coopers and J. Boag & Sons are fighting excise being collected under the Government's Excise Tariff Proposal.

The industry representative Australian Associated Brewers (AAB) said the government had been collecting tax under this provision since July 2000. However AAB argues that the tax is not law yet as it has not been approved by both houses of parliament.

AAB said in a statement: "Our legal action will enable us to claim back the disputed excise that has driven beer prices well above the 1.9% the government promised. To date this amount is in excess of A$100m."

The companies involved have said they will not profit from the case and if successful will return the money to beer drinkers or charities.