Wednesday, 15 November 2017

No bargains for Scottish whisky

Following on the recent line of posts on consumer health, it may be interesting for our readers to hear about the UK Supreme Court deciding this week that Scotland is allowed to set minimum prices per unit of alcohol sold (Supreme Court back Scottish minimum alcohol pricing). The legislation to this effect has been adopted a few years ago but has not entered into force, due to its legality being questioned by the whisky association (unsurprisingly). It was claimed that the rule was against EU freedom of movement of goods, creating unjustified and disproportionate barriers. The UK Supreme Court disagreed. The law is perceived as setting valid aims to discourage Scots from buying strong alcohol cheaply by asking a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol sold (regardless the country of origin of the alcohol, which means the measure is non-discriminatory). The price of lower in percentages alcohol, such as beer, would not be influenced by the reform (to reassure some of our readers). No reference was made to the Court of Justice to try to establish whether despite the non-discriminatory character the measure could still be perceived as hindering market access. It will be interesting to examine the results of such changes in pricing - how they impact consumer behaviour - and whether they could indeed be perceived as an efficient measure to improve consumer health.

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