Decision under appeal: Unfiltered Brewing Incorporated v. Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation

In January of this year the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia issued its decision in the matter of Unfiltered Brewing Inc. v. Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation.  That decision can be read in full here. You can also find a summary of that decision over at

Unfiltered Brewing sought an appeal of the decision, and on  November 15, 2018 the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal will hear oral arguments on the appeal. If you are in Halifax, and a supporter of craft beer, you should pay courtroom 502 a visit.

The issue in Unfiltered Brewing, like so much of the liquor law litigation happening in Canada these days, was constitutional in nature: does the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation have the jurisdiction to charge a mandatory retail mark-up on beer sold (or even given away) by Unfiltered Brewing, at its premises on North Street in Halifax? Unfiltered Brewing argued, unsuccessfully, that it does not. It asserted that Nova Scotia’s liquor mark-up regime on beer not sold or handled by the NSLC was in pith and substance a tax that the NSLC was not authorized to implement. The NSLC satisfied the court that the mark-up was not a tax but rather a proprietary charge within the authority of the NSLC to collect pursuant to its statutory mandate.

The court noted that the Toronto Distillery Co. recently, and also unsuccessfully, advanced similar arguments in its case against the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. A summary of that decision can be read here.

Alcohol & Advocacy expects the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to follow the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision in Toronto Distillery Co. A summary of that decision can be read here. However, if the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal overturns the lower court’s decision, such a ruling could have national implications. A&A will be watching closely.

*Alcohol & Advocacy publishes articles for information purposes only. They are not a substitute for legal advice, and persons requiring such advice should consult legal counsel.

Dan Coles
Retired bartender. Young lawyer. From the East, living in the West. Interested in British Columbia's producers and purveyors of wine, beer and spirits.