Keeping beer prices down

Court of Appeal judgment is now pending in a legal battle aimed at reducing the price of beer. One of the country's best known and oldest breweries, Kent-based Shepherd Neame, has appealed against High Court rulings upholding two budget increases of a penny per pint on beer. Shepherd Neame claims the increases are unlawful or that they should be scrutinised by the European Court of Justice. It claims it is "in stark contrast" to the pattern established in other EC states, which have not increased their excise duties at all. Stuart Neame, vice chairman of Shepherd Neame, says that if the increases are allowed, the ultimate result could be the closure of "hundreds, if not thousands of pubs".