Minimum price battle enters next stage

By Gillian McKenzie

MINIMUM pricing is back at the top of the agenda this week.

An appeal from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) over the Scottish Government’s plans to introduce a minimum price of 50p a unit was due to get underway at the Court of Session in Edinburgh as SLTN went to press.
The appeal hearing, which is expected to last eight days, comes after a legal challenge by the SWA and European drinks bodies Spirits Europe and Comite Vins last May was rejected.
It’s the latest stage in a long-running battle.
The Alcohol (Minimum Pricing) (Scotland) Act was passed back in May 2012 but its implementation has been delayed due to the legal challenge.
And there could still be some way to go.
The SWA has previously indicated that it will take its challenge to minimum pricing as far as it can. With the Supreme Court and European Court of Justice the next stages, it could be a lengthy process.
In the meantime, SLTA chief Paul Waterson – a long-time campaigner for minimum pricing – is rightly concerned that the Scottish Government may look to introduce alternative measures in its quest to tackle alcohol misuse; and he fears these could have ramifications for the on and off-trades.
It’s a worrying thought.
But with any form of resolution on minimum pricing seemingly a long way off, it could become a reality.
Let’s hope the process is concluded sooner rather than later.