Scott Whiskey Association appeals again against Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP)
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), which is the lobby front group for some of the world’s biggest alcohol producers including Diageo and Beam Suntory, has applied to appeal in the UK Supreme Court against minimum pricing for alcohol in Scotland.
MUP in court instead of saving lives
In October the Court of Session in Scotland had ruled against SWA after a lengthy legal challenge against MUP, which would set a minimum unit price of 50p. MUP had been approved by Members of the Scottish Parliament as early as 2012. However, since then Big Alcohol has effectively blocked its implementation by tying up the policy in legal challenges.
The matter has now been through the Scottish courts twice. It was referred to the European Court of Justice, which ruled in December 2015 that European law may be compatible with the MUP – but concluded that it was ultimately up to the national courts to make a decision about whether to implement it.
Disappointing move by Big Alcohol
Health Secretary Shona Robison said the decision by the alcohol ginats to pursue yet another appeal in court was “deeply disappointing”. The BBC reports her saying:
I think the SWA may want to consider that minimum unit pricing was passed with the overwhelming support of the parliament, has been tested in Europe, and has now been approved twice in the Scottish courts.
We remain committed to ongoing dialogue with the alcohol industry. Should the SWA drop their appeal, and accept that the time has now come to implement this measure that will save lives, they could expect very strong support from across Scotland.
We remain determined to implement this policy as soon as possible, and we’re confident that, like the Court of Session, the Supreme Court will find the policy to be lawful.”
The Scottish government wants to press ahead with setting a minimum price per unit of alcohol “as soon as possible”. The Scottish government insists the law could save lives by ending cheap alcohol prices.
Under the plans the cheapest bottle of wine (9.4 units of alcohol) would be £4.69, a four-pack of 500ml cans of 4% lager would cost at least £4 and a 70cl bottle of whisky could not be sold for less than £14.