Scots MUP for Supreme Court

The battle to prevent Scotland introducing a Minimum Unit Price for alcohol continues to the Supreme Court.

With the recent rejection of their challenge to the introduction of MUP by the Edinburgh Court of Session, the Scotch Whisky Association and its allies are appealing to the decision to the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest court.

“This is not a decision we’ve taken lightly,” stated Julie Hesketh-Laird, the SWA’s acting Chief Executive, “However, given our strong view that minimum pricing is incompatible with EU law and likely to be ineffective, we now hope that our appeal can be heard quickly in the UK Supreme Court.

“Having studied the ruling, we believe the Scottish court has not properly reviewed the legislation’s compatibility with EU law as required by the European Court’s judgment.

“We remain committed to working closely with the Scottish Government and everyone else who shares our common goal of tackling alcohol misuse. By working effectively in partnership we hope the long-term trend decline in alcohol-related harms in Scotland will continue

And in its own statement, SpiritsEurope’s Director General Paul Skehan commented, “With our co-plaintiffs the Scotch Whisky Association and Comité Vins, we’ve decided to appeal the ruling on MUP of alcohol from the Scottish Court of Session to the UK Supreme Court.

“Believing, as we do, that the evidence behind this measure is weak at best, that it is unlikely to have any significant impact on alcohol-related harm and that the measure is probably illegal under EU law, we’re left with no appropriate response other than to appeal to the UK Supreme Court.”

In the meantime, he said, SpiritsEurope will continue with the many campaigns and initiatives it runs or finances towards responsible drinking and against drink-driving, underage and binge-drinking.

“We acknowledge and share the Scottish Government’s concerns about these harms caused by excessive drinking but we do not believe MUP – a theoretical computer-based model, whose predicted outcomes have changed many times – to be an appropriate response.”

However after so many delays over the last few years, Scotland’s Health Minister Shona Robison found the SWA decision “deeply disappointing”. However she was confident that the Supreme Court would back the Court of Session’s decision that MUP, backed by police, doctors and alcohol charities, did not contravene EU law.

“I think the SWA may want to consider that MUP was passed with the overwhelming support of the parliament, has been tested in Europe and has now been approved twice in the Scottish courts,” she stated recently, adding, “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.”

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