Scotch Whisky Association allowed minimum pricing appeal

Whisky Image copyright AFP
Image caption Scotch Whisky Association believes that the proposal contravenes EU regulation law

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) can take its appeal against a minimum price for alcohol to the UK Supreme Court, judges have ruled.

The trade body was given permission to go to Britain's highest court at a hearing at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Whisky firms wants to stop the Scottish government's plans to regulate the price of alcohol.

The policy was passed by MSPs at Holyrood in 2012.

The SWA believes that the proposal contravenes EU regulation law.

Earlier this year, Judges Lord Carloway, Lord Brodie and Lord Menzies ruled that the Scottish government's plans were legally sound.

However, the three judges have now allowed the association to go to the Supreme Court after hearing from the organisation's advocate Aidan O'Neill QC.

Mr O'Neill told the court on Tuesday that the court's ruling from earlier this year misunderstood European law and said his client should be allowed to attend the Supreme Court.

He added: "There has been a misunderstanding and a misapplication of the law in this particular case."

The Lord President, Lord Carloway, then allowed Mr O'Neill's request to take the matter to senior judges in London.

He said: "This is a difficult matter. However, on balance we will grant leave to appeal."

Timeline: Minimum pricing for alcohol

Image copyright PA

May 2012: MSPs pass Scots booze price plan

May 2013: Minimum drink price challenge fails

December 2015: Minimum drink price 'may breach EU law'

October 2016: Courts back minimum alcohol price

This latest development comes almost five years after the Scottish government introduced a bill for minimum pricing to Holyrood.

MSPs passed the bill in May 2012. It stated that retailers could not sell alcohol below a minimum price of 50p per unit.

Under the plans, the cheapest bottle of wine would be £4.69, a four pack of 500ml cans of beer would cost at least £4 and a bottle of whisky could not be sold for less than £14.

The new laws would be "experimental" and expire after six years.

The Scottish government, health professionals, police, alcohol charities and some members of the drinks industry believe the policy would help address Scotland's "unhealthy relationship with drink".

But the SWA has consistently objected to the legislation.

The date of the hearing at the Supreme Court is not known.

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