A legal challenge has been launched to block the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP) on alcohol in Scotland.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), in conjunction with other UK and European wine, beer and spirit trade bodies, has lodged a complaint with the European Commission (EC) and is taking legal action through the Scottish courts against plans for a 50p per unit minimum charge.
The Scottish parliament passed legislation to introduce MUP earlier this year and the measure was expected to come into force next spring.
The SWA said it was taking action because it claimed MUP was illegal under European competition regulations, it would be ineffective in dealing with alcohol misuse and it would “penalise responsible drinkers and put pressure on household budgets”. The Scottish government recently notified the EC about its plans to introduce MUP.
The association said MUP would damage the domestic whisky industry as the Scottish government has acknowledged the 50p rate would result in price rises for almost three-quarters (73%) of all alcoholic drinks.
The SWA said it had been left with “no option” but to complain to the EC and to seek a judicial review of the law with the Scottish Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Gavin Hewitt, chief executive at the SWA, said: “Despite warnings that minimum pricing of alcohol would be illegal, the Scottish government has pressed ahead with its ill-targeted policy and misguided legislation.
“Scottish Ministers repeatedly claimed during the parliamentary process that as a premium product Scotch whisky would not be affected by minimum pricing. The truth is now out. The Scottish government’s own final impact assessment reveals 85% of blended Scotch whisky will be increased in price as a result of an MUP of 50p,” he said.
Source: Independent Retail News