Philip Morris to pay Australian Government’s legal costs after losing plain packaging battle


US-based tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris has been ordered to pay an undisclosed amount in legal fees to the Australian Government after losing a six-year-old court case against the country’s plain-packaging laws.

The latest order, issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), has redacted the exact amount of compensation to be paid by Philip Morris.

However, the amount could be as high as $A50m ($38m), reported the Sydney Morning Herald.

In November 2011, Philip Morris Asia Limited (Hong Kong) sued the Commonwealth of Australia over claims that the packaging legislation breached Australia’s Bilateral Investment Treaty with Hong Kong.

"The latest order has redacted the exact amount of compensation to be paid by Philip Morris."

It further argued that the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act and Tobacco Plain Packaging Regulations would affect the company’s investments in Australia.

In its case, Philip Morris had also asked the government to end its plain packaging laws or pay the company billions of dollars in compensation.

In 2015, PCA dismissed the case citing it was ‘an abuse of rights’, reported BBC.

Responding to the latest court decision, Philip Morris said that the Australian Government’s claim for legal expense was unreasonable and is more than the cost claims made by other countries in similar cases.

In 2012, Australia introduced the world’s first plain-packaging law, mandating the sale of cigarettes in unappealing packets with graphic health warnings.

Since the introduction of the first tobacco plain packaging law in Australia, various other countries have also brought in such legislations, including the UK.