Scots judge clears way for MUP

Scottish government plans to introduce an MUP of 50 pence per unit of alcohol seem set to get the go-ahead
Multi-buy deals and alcohol voucher schemes are no longer allowed

The recent decision by the Scottish Court of Session that the Scottish Parliament has the legal authority to introduce a Minimum Unit Price for all alcohol sold in Scotland is likely to have repercussions here in that the Department of Health now seems likely to include MUP proposals as part of an overall package of measures to tackle alcohol abuse, thought by some to be for introduction later this month.

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15 May 2013

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The Scottish Court of Session dismissed the Scottish Whisky Association’s petition for a judicial review of Minimum Unit Pricing.

Thus Scottish government plans to introduce an MUP of 50 pence per unit of alcohol seem set to get the go-ahead after Scottish supreme civil court judge Lord Doherty approved the move in his ruling which is to be appealed by the drinks industry all the way to the European Court of Justice.

The introduction of MUP was justified under EU law “on the grounds of the protection of the life and health of humans” stated the Scottish judge.

Here, Fine Gael Dublin Senator Catherine Noone commented that the Scottish ruling indicated that MUP is not incompatible with EU law.

“I intend to raise this issue with the Minister for Health to establish what progress the Government has made on the introduction of minimum pricing,” she stated recently.

While the SWA lost the argument, according to the Scottish Whisky Association’s Chief Executive Gavin Hewitt, “The view from Europe has been very different to that expressed by the court and we are not alone in having concerns about the legality of MUP.

“The European commission and more than 10 member states have expressed their concerns that MUP contravenes European Union trading rules and their opposition to the Scottish proposals.”

The continuance of the legal dispute could delay any introduction of MUP in Scotland for several years, however.

“The Scotch Whisky Association’s decision to appeal is the right one and we support it,” commented the Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association Miles Beale, “We are particularly concerned that the Judge has failed to refer this matter to the European Court of Justice. The European Commission and some 10 Member States have expressed their concerns about the legality of MUP under EU law.

“MUP is an ineffective measure which will punish the majority of responsible drinkers through higher prices, particularly those on the lowest incomes. If MUP is introduced in Scotland, the UK risks retaliatory action that would undermine the UK’s wine and spirit sector which is worth £37 billion to the UK economy. It would also put at risk over two million UK jobs.

“While legal action is likely to go on for many months the industry remains committed to making real and measurable progress to reducing alcohol-related harm in Scotland through the Scottish Government Alcohol Industry Partnership and the Public Health Responsibility Deal.”

Scottish government plans to introduce an MUP of 50 pence per unit of alcohol seem set to get the go-ahead

Scottish government plans to introduce an MUP of 50 pence per unit of alcohol seem set to get the go-ahead

 

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