A legal challenge against minimum pricing for alcohol in Scotland has been referred to a European court.
Judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh have ruled that the case against the Scottish Government's policy should be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union (EU).
The legal challenge was brought by the Scotch Whisky Association, which has argued that minimum pricing legislation breaches European law.
Health Secretary Alex Neil welcomed the referral from the court and stressed that it was right this "precedent-setting case" was considered by the highest authority on EU law.
The Scottish Government says minimum pricing is needed to tackle Scotland's problems with alcohol misuse.
Mr Neil said: "Scotland has a difficult relationship with alcohol and we need to urgently take action to tackle this problem that puts a huge burden on our society.
"The evidence shows that minimum unit pricing is an effective way to tackle alcohol-related harm. This is because it targets heavy drinkers in particular as they tend to drink the cheap, high-strength alcohol that will be most affected by the policy.
"That is why I welcome the referral to European Court of Justice. Scotland is leading the way in Europe. We are confident of our case and look forward to presenting it in the European Court of Justice.
"While it is regrettable that this means we will not be able to implement minimum unit pricing sooner, we will continue our ongoing and productive dialogue with EU officials."
Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) chief executive David Frost said: "We are pleased that the Court of Session in Edinburgh is referring the minimum unit pricing (MUP) case to the Court of Justice of the European Union. From the outset we said that we believed MUP was contrary to European Union law and that it was likely in the end to go to the European Court.
"We also believe MUP would be ineffective in tackling alcohol misuse and would damage the Scotch whisky industry in the UK and overseas."