In 2012 the Scottish Government passed legislation to introduce minimum pricing unit pricing for alcohol as part of its strategy to reduce alcohol consumption and the harm associated with over consumption. The minimum unit price was set at 50p.
The Scotch Whisky Association challenged the legality of this. (The Scotch Whisky Association v Lord Advocate 2013 S.L.T. 776). This legal bid was rejected. However, this decision has been appealed on the grounds that it breaches EU law as it would be a barrier to the free movement of goods. The Court of Session made a request for a preliminary ruling from the European Court of Justice in July last year.
UPDATE: On the 3rd of September the Advocate General issued his opinion that minimum unit pricing would only be legal under EU law if it could be shown that there is no other mechanism available to the Scottish Government that could achieve their desired public health benefits. Advocate General Bot also set out tests that national courts would have to apply when making their decision. Advocate General Bot’s opinion can be read in full here:
It is expected to be up to six months before the European Court of Justice gives its final ruling. The case will then be referred back to the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Stay tuned for more updates.