Minimum unit pricing for alcohol is set to be introduced in Scotland after the plans gained the backing of the Scottish courts today (Friday).
The Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled in favour of the Scottish government’s proposal for a minimum unit price of 50p, which was passed by MSPs in 2012.
The Scotch Whisky Association had challenged the proposal, claiming it was a breach of European law.
David Frost, chief executive of the SWA, said: “We continue to believe that MUP is a restriction on trade and that there are more effective ways of tackling alcohol misuse. However, we of course remain committed to working with all partners to address this problem so that the long-term trend of declining alcohol-related harm in Scotland continues.
“We will study the details of the judgement and consult our members before deciding on next steps, including any possible appeal to the UK Supreme Court.”
Welcoming the ruling, Aileen Campbell, Scotland’s minister for public health and sport, said: “I am delighted that the highest court in Scotland has reinforced the initial judgment in our favour from 2013. This follows the opinion of the European Court of Justice, which ruled that it was for our domestic courts to make a final judgment on the scheme.
“The Scotch Whisky Association represents some of Scotland’s finest whisky brands, and while they were entitled to raise this action, they and the wider drinks industry must now respect the democratic will of the Scottish Parliament and the ruling of the Court of Session and enable this life-saving measure to be introduced.
“Today’s ruling is a landmark one, and should mark the end of the legal process, allowing this important policy to finally be brought forward.”
She said the Scottish Government would look at implementing the policy as soon as possible.
The SWA has 28 days to decide whether to appeal the ruling.