International legal action over Australia’s plain packaging laws will culminate in a trial soon, after 2 years of procedural delay.
Cuba, Ukraine, Indonesia, Honduras and the Dominican Republic are bringing the action against Australia, alleging that the legislation restricts international trade and intellectual property. Britain, Ireland and New Zealand, however, seem undeterred by the action, as they are all drafting similar laws, a move that opponents of the law had hoped would not happen whilst legal action was pending.
Opponents argue that the measures are failing to have the desired effects on smoking prevalence, and are instead detrimental to their countries, as plain packaging precludes the use of design elements in branding.
The World Trade Organisation will appoint 3 panelists to hear the dispute by May 5 and will review the case and make a decision within 6 months of their appointment. However panelists may request additional time, should it be required.