05:22, November 15 54 0 theguardian.com

2017-11-15 05:22:04
UK supreme court rules minimum alcohol pricing is legal

The UK supreme court has backed the Scottish government’s plans to introduce a minimum price for all alcoholic drinks in a decisive victory for Nicola Sturgeon.

After a five-year legal battle against the plans led by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), the court has ruled that minimum pricing is legal under EU law on health grounds.

The ruling clears the way for the Scottish and Welsh governments to introduce a minimum unit price for alcoholic drinks, which is likely to be set at 50p a unit, and will increase pressure on English ministers to follow suit.

The policy has been championed by Sturgeon since she was Scotland’s health secretary, in an effort to combat the increasing number of deaths from alcohol-related diseases, and had been backed by Scottish judges in several hearings.

The SWA, backed by the European drinks industry, had argued that minimum pricing breached EU and global trade law as it interfered with free trade and open borders regulations. It lodged a series of appeals against rulings by Scottish judges in favour of Sturgeon’s plans.

The industry’s case was supported by an interim opinion from the European court of justice in an appeal hearing at which European judges asked the Scottish and UK courts to re-examine the case.

More details soon …