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Minimum Alcohol Pricing Breaks EU Law Says Court

December 23, 2015

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg, has ruled that the Scottish governments attempts to introduce minimum alcohol pricing are contrary to EU law. Legislation to bring in a minimum alcohol price of 50p a unit was passed by the Scottish Parliament in 2012.

A legal challenge by the Scottish Whiskey Association backed by a number of other European wines and spirits producers was initially rejected at the Court of Session in Edinburgh in 2013, prompting judges to pass the matter to the ECJ.

The latest ruling said: “The Court of Justice considers that the effect of the Scottish legislation is significantly to restrict the market, and this might be avoided by the introduction of a tax measure designed to increase the price of alcohol instead of a measure imposing a minimum price per unit of alcohol.”

Under pressure from medical professionals and the police, a minimum price of 40p was proposed in England and Wales but was turned down by politicians. The Luxembourg ruling will now be referred back to the Court of Session for a further decision which is then likely to result in a final appeal to the UK Supreme Court. The news comes at the same time as figures from the Nuffield Trust show that alcohol related visits to Accident & Emergency have doubled in six years, with the highest rate amongst females aged between 15 and 19.

You can read the full Nuffield Trust Report HERE