BRUSSELS has been warned to listen to Scotland's senior judges after they ruled in favour of the Scottish Government's policy of minimum pricing for alcohol.

Health Secretary Alex Neil told two European commissioners who are dealing with the issue it was important to listen to the decision earlier this month by the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The court ruled against the Scotch Whisky Association's claim the policy broke European Union law. The trade body had hoped to get the case referred to the EU Court of Justice.

Mr Neil has now written to both the Commission's vice-president for industry and entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani, and the Commissioner for Health Tonio Borg.

He told them: "You may have seen the media coverage of the outcome of court deliberations on minimum unit pricing for alcohol.

"I thought it would be helpful if I confirm that the Court of Session in Scotland found comprehensively in favour of the Scottish Government's minimum unit pricing policy for alcohol in its judgment issued on May 3.

"The court recognised the overwhelming evidence supporting the legitimate aims of minimum unit pricing to reduce alcohol consumption, with a particular focus on reducing consumption by hazardous and harmful drinkers who experience so much of the alcohol-related harm we see in Scotland."

Lord Doherty ruled plans for a 50p minimum price per unit of alcohol were within the powers of Scottish Ministers and "not incompatible with EU law."

Such a minimum price would mean a bottle of wine costing at least £4.69, while a four-pack of lager would cost more than £3.50.

Mr Neil wrote: "You will appreciate that in order to reach its decision the court needed to make a judgment on matters of EU law.

"On proportionality the court determined that minimum unit pricing is both necessary based on objective evidence and achieves its stated aims, and that alternative measures [taxation] would be likely to be less effective."

The Health Secretary pointed to the judge's observation that a member state was "entitled to a margin of appreciation or discretion when the proportionality of measures is considered by the court" and that "there was no suggestion from either party that the measure was a disguised restriction on trade."

He also highlighted the finding that said: "None of the challenges to the minimum pricing measures is well-founded. There is no proper basis for the petitioners being granted any of the remedies which they seek."

Mr Neil pointed out that the judge did not believe the industry had added to the evidence before MSPs when they passed the legislation, while the Scottish Government had provided "clear and objective evidence" in support of policy conclusions and aims.

The Health Secretary also drew the Commission's attention to a recent academic study that was highly critical of industry evidence in the legislative process.

Mr Neil expressed hope that the issue would go on the agenda for the next meeting between the Commission, the Scottish Government and the UK as member state.

While the case was being challenged by the industry in the Court of Session, the UK Cabinet was back-tracking on its plan to follow Holyrood in adopting the same policy and minimum unit pricing did not feature in the Queen's Speech.