The UK’s highest court is to begin hearing the latest appeal against minimum pricing for alcohol.
The Scotch Whisky Association’s case against the measure will be assessed by the Supreme Court in London.
The trade body was given permission to go to the court at a hearing in Edinburgh last year.
Whisky firms want to stop the Scottish government’s plans to regulate the price of alcohol. The policy was passed by MSPs at Holyrood in 2012.
Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has told BBC Scotland he thinks the Scotch Whisky Association’s behaviour has been “disgraceful”.
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) believes the proposed legislation contravenes EU regulation law.
In October 2016, Judges Lord Carloway, Lord Brodie and Lord Menzies ruled that the Scottish government’s plans were legally sound.
However, in December the three judges allowed the association to go to the Supreme Court after hearing from the organisation’s advocate Aidan O’Neill QC.
Mr O’Neill had argued that the court’s original ruling misunderstood European law and said his client should be allowed to attend the Supreme Court.
Timeline: Minimum pricing for alcohol
May 2012: MSPs pass Scots booze price plan
May 2013: Minimum drink price challenge fails
December 2015: Minimum drink price ‘may breach EU law’
October 2016: Courts back minimum alcohol price
December 2016: Whisky firms allowed minimum price appeal
This latest development comes almost five years after the Scottish government introduced a bill for minimum pricing to Holyrood.
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MSPs passed the bill in May 2012. It stated that retailers could not sell alcohol below a minimum price of 50p per unit.
Under the plans, the cheapest bottle of wine would be £4.69, a four pack of 500ml cans of beer would cost at least £4 and a bottle of whisky could not be sold for less than £14.
The new laws would be “experimental” and expire after six years.
The Scottish government, health professionals, police, alcohol charities and some members of the drinks industry believe the policy would help address Scotland’s “unhealthy relationship with drink”.
But the SWA has consistently objected to the legislation.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: “We believe that the minimum pricing of alcohol is illegal under EU law.
“Minimum pricing actually amounts to a trade barrier and this is a real concern for our industry.
“The success of Scotch really depends on our ability to sell successfully overseas, so if other markets respond by imposing similar barriers to free competition, Scotch will be damaged and with it the communities, the jobs which rely on the industry’s continued success.”
Scotland’s Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “We’re looking forward to the judgment of the Supreme Court on Minimum Unit Pricing and if it is the positive outcome we hope for, we will move as quickly as is practicable to put the policy in place.”
Former Justice Secretary Mr MacAskill, who was one of the architects of the minimum pricing bill, said: “This isn’t about protecting Scotch whisky, this about protecting cheap alcohol sales.
“What we have to remember is that members of the Scotch Whisky Association are also large alcohol producing companies and they are protecting their interests because somebody sells the cheap vodkas, somebody sells the cheap ciders and it’s the same people that own and manufacture Scotch whisky.”