Leigh Day represent ASH in High Court battle over plain packaging as major brands challenge Government regulations coming into force next year

Law firm Leigh Day is representing the campaigning public health charity ASH who are intervening in a High Court case, beginning today (10 December 2015), which has been brought by the four major manufacturers of tobacco products against the UK Government’s decision to introduce regulations on pack design for cigarettes and hand rolled tobacco.

The six-day hearing at the High Court in London will hear representations on behalf of British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Limited, Japan Tobacco International and Philip Morris International against the Regulations bringing in standardised packaging, claiming they are unlawful.

All cigarettes and hand-rolled tobacco will have to be manufactured in standard packs from May 2016. Both the Regulations and the Children and Families Act, which gave the Health Secretary the power to regulate pack design, were passed by overwhelming majorities on free votes in both the House of Commons and in the House of Lords.

However, the tobacco companies are claiming that the Regulations infringe their human rights and intellectual property rights.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH said: "The court case brought by the tobacco industry to try to block standardised tobacco packaging in the UK begins on Thursday.

"This is a desperate last ditch move by the tobacco companies to try to protect their right to promote their products in glitzy brightly coloured packaging, hoping that they will attract to children and young people to become the next generation addicted to smoking.

"We expect the industry to lose. But of course they still hope that by tying up government officials and the court system for as long as they can, and by making the case as complicated and expensive as possible, they might put off governments in poorer countries than the UK from following our example"

Sean Humber Head of the human rights team at Leigh Day and who is representing ASH, said: “ASH are intervening in this important legal challenge in support of the Government’s proposals to introduce plain packaging on the basis that these proposals are clearly a justified and proportionate response to the extreme harm caused by cigarette smoking and the need to protect public health, in particular the health of children and young people. “ASH do not consider that the arguments advanced by the tobacco industry against the introduction of plain packaging stand up to scrutiny”.