The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) will go to the Court of Session next week to urge it to pass the dispute over the proposals to the European Court of Justice for a decision.
The association opposes the plans [for minimum pricing], which would set a 50p per unit floor price on all drink sold in Scotland, saying it will encourage countries around the world to retaliate with tariffs on imports of Scotch.Well why not? One of the biggest problems for minimum alcohol pricing is that there is a ECJ legal precedent in the form of Commission v France, Austria and Ireland 2010 which ruled minimum pricing is illegal for tobacco products. I think it's fair to say that if Europe's eager baccy bansturbators can't force through a minimum price, alcohol haters are going to have an exponentially tougher battle.
So the SWA is proposing skipping all the expensive Scottish legal fannying around and going straight to that pivotal question earlier rather than later.
The two sides are now locked in a legal dispute at the Court of Session, with reports yesterday suggesting that it could take until 2017 for the matter to reach a resolution.
A spokeswoman for the SWA said last night that it expected the case to be referred up to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, no matter what the Scottish courts conclude.
She said that resolution of the case could be speeded up if the Scottish Government agreed to ask the Court of Session to send it there now.Makes perfect sense. Especially since Health Sec Alex Neil agrees that the dispute will inevitably end up being fought in Strasbourg but is confident that the European Court is going to be a cakewalk.
Mr Neil said: "If we end up in the European Court, which I think at the end of the day may well happen, we believe if it does end up in the European Court we will win hands down."So why not just get on with it then?
It seems that, in order to foster the perception that Scotland is a real country, they're just going to tie up Scottish courts wasting Scottish taxpayers' money for the next three or four years instead of saving cash with a quick yes or no from those with real power in Europe.
Says a lot about the SNP, that.