Sunday 26 March 2017

Court challenge against government plain tobacco packaging plans begins next week

James Reilly
James Reilly
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

THE Irish Courts will next week begin hearing the first case of its kind taken against the State over plans to introduce plain tobacco products.

Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has instigated legal action in a bid to detail the proposals, which are being spear-headed by Children's Minister James Reilly.

Independent.ie has confirmed that the proceedings are scheduled to begin in the Commercial Court on Monday.

Details of arguments being put forward by the State and JTI will be heard during the case, which will be open to the public.

Politically, the Government is taking gamble given the risk involved in taking on some of the world's most powerful tobacco giants.

However, Dr Reilly is adamant the plain tobacco measures will reduce cancer-related deaths, particular involving children.

As previously detailed by Independent.ie, JTI's legal challenge is based on the concept of EU competence.

The company says Ireland cannot introduce such laws because the European Court of  Justice is still deliberately on the issue. JTI is asking the Commercial Court to stall Dr Reilly's plans until the outcome of the European court case.

The court action taken by JTI does not specially name Dr Reilly as a defendant, but does name Health Minister James Reilly, Attorney General Maire Whelan and the State.

A JTI spokesman told Independent.ie:

"This is a matter for the courts to decide. Ireland is a member of the EU and must operate within the parameters of EU law and we are asking the court to confirm that, under EU law, the Irish Government cannot enact plain packaging legislation."

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