SO minimum pricing has passed another hurdle.
A legal challenge to the Scottish Government’s plans to implement a 50p minimum unit price (MUP) for alcohol by the Scotch Whisky Association and other drinks industry bodies has been rejected by the Court of Session.
In the ruling, Lord Doherty said the introduction of minimum pricing legislation, which was passed by the Scottish Parliament last May, is “within the powers of the Scottish ministers” and “not incompatible with EU law”. There have also been subsequent reports that Europe’s health commissioner has backed minimum pricing “in principle”.
But the story is far from over.
The SWA has vowed to appeal the decision, claiming it is “not alone in having concerns about the legality of MUP”, with the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) backing the challenge.
The Scottish Government has pledged that the measures will not be implemented until the legal process, including appeals, is complete.
With yet further delays on the horizon, SLTA chief Paul Waterson has expressed concern that the Scottish Government may look to introduce tougher measures to tackle alcohol misuse in the interim, which could have ramifications for the on and off-trades.
As the debate rumbles on and the future of minimum pricing remains uncertain, one can only hope the process is concluded sooner rather than later.