Tobacco companies are gearing up to launch a lawsuit against the UK Government to claim compensation for losses caused as a result of the introduction of plain packaging for cigarettes.
The companies will begin submitting papers at the High Court to seek close to £11bn in compensation.
Earlier in March, MPs voted in favour to introduce mandatory plain packaging for tobacco products.
The new packaging standard is expected to come into effect in May next year.
Conservative MP and former defence minister Sir Gerald Howarth was quoted by The Telegraph as saying: "This was always on the cards, several of us warned the government that if they were to go down this road one likely consequence would be that the companies would seek legal redress to protect their intellectual property."
Marlboro cigarettes maker Philip Morris International is likely to be the first to file a lawsuit against the UK and Scottish Governments, with Japan Tobacco International following among other companies.
A source at Philip Morris told The Scotsman: "Papers will be presented either on Friday or Tuesday at the latest. We believe we have a strong case."
A legal opinion submitted by former senior Appeal Court Lord Hoffmann holds that depriving the companies of using their brands on cigarette packs could be a breach of trademark law as trademarks are protected under European law.
Image: Earlier in March this year, MPs voted in favour to introduce mandatory plain packaging for tobacco products. Photo: courtesy of Mister GC via freedigitalphotos.