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Scotland closer to minimum alcohol pricing after court ruling

Scotland's highest court has ruled in favour of government plans to set a minimum price on wine, beer and spirits.

Scotland’s Court of Sessions, the highest civil court in the country, has backed the Scottish government’s plan to bring in minimum alcohol pricing.

It means that proposals to set a 50p per unit base price on wine, beer and spirits have a stronger chance of going ahead, despite ongoing opposition from the drinks industry.

Under those rules, a 13.5 percent abv bottle of wine would have a starting price of £5.

Whether or not that also forces up wine prices in general would depend on how supermarkets and other retailers react to the policy. The drinks industry has argued vehemently against the effectiveness of minimum pricing.

The court’s ruling comes in the same week that UK wine industry leaders warned that wine prices will likely rise because of pressure from the weak pound sterling following the Brexit vote on 23 June.

Scotland voted to remain in the European Union and has been exploring ways of retaining access to the single market.

However, several EU member states, including France and Spain, have previously stated their opposition to Scotland’s plans for minimum pricing. That could prove a flashpoint in negotiations.

‘Today’s ruling is a landmark one, and should mark the end of the legal process, allowing this important policy to finally be brought forward,’ said Aileen Campbell, Scotland’s minister for public health and sport.

Scotland has the power to set its own alcohol policy. In London, the UK government has so far not backed minimum pricing on alcohol.

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