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Supreme Court: Celebrities can’t promote alcoholic drinks

Wednesdays' ruling brings to an end the case filed by Mark Darlington Osae, manager of Hiplife artists -Reggie ‘N’ Bollie, and Skrewfaze

The Supreme Court on Wednesday(19 June) ruled in support of a directive by the Foods and Drugs Authority (FDA) prohibiting celebrities and well-known personalities from being used for advertising alcoholic products in Ghana.

Wednesdays’ ruling brings to an end the case filed by Mark Darlington Osae, manager of Hiplife artists -Reggie ‘N’ Bollie, and Skrewfaze.

According to the Chief Justice, Gertrude Tokornoo, the FDA’s directive does not contravene Ghana’s constitution.

The apex court panel of seven had twice, including on 8 May, 2024, deferred its judgment on the matter.

Background

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) had issued a directive that placed a ban on celebrities from advertising alcoholic beverages. The FDA’s directive, which barred the use of celebrities in promoting alcoholic beverages, aimed to protect minors from being influenced by celebrities into alcoholism.

Mr. Mark Osae, the manager of Reggie ‘N’ Bollie and Skrewfaze, dissatisfied with the directive, issued a writ at the Supreme Court on November 11, 2022, arguing that the FDA’s 2015 regulations are discriminatory against the creative arts industry.

The plaintiff, who is also a music publisher at Perfect Note Publishing, wants the Supreme Court to strike down that regulation.

Osae, who is the Chairman and Co-Founder of the Ghana Music Alliance, said the FDA directive, which ordered that “no well-known personality or professional shall be used in alcoholic beverage advertising,” is inconsistent with and in contravention of Articles 17(1) and 17(2) of the 1992 Constitution.

He contended that Articles 17(1) and 17(2) of the 1992 Constitution guarantee equality before the law and prohibit discrimination against persons on grounds of social or economic status, occupation, among others, rendering the directive consequently null, void, and unenforceable.

Before the action was initiated at the Supreme Court, some stakeholders in the creative industry, including Wendy Shay, Shatta Wale, Brother Sammy, Kuami Eugene, and Camidoh, had spoken against the law and called on authorities to repeal it.

The FDA’s directive discourages the use of celebrities in the promotion of alcoholic beverages via any medium. This policy is part of the efforts by the government of Ghana to protect children and young people from alcohol marketing.

However, the plaintiff argues that this child protection measure would deprive the entertainment industry of potential income streams.

In the writ issued on 11 November, 2022, Osae contends that aspects of the FDA’s 2015 regulations amount to discrimination based on economic status, occupation, among others.

The artist, manager, and music publisher is thus asking the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional the guidelines stipulating that “No well-known personality or professional shall be used in alcoholic beverage advertising.”

Reliefs Sought:

(a) A declaration that on a true and proper interpretation of Articles 17(1) and 17(2), which guarantee equality before the law and prohibit discrimination against persons on grounds of social or economic status, occupation, among others, Guideline 3.2.10 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods published by the 1st Defendant on February 1, 2016, which provides that “No well-known personality or professional shall be used in alcoholic beverage advertising,” is discriminatory, inconsistent with, and in contravention of Articles 17(1) and 17(2) of the 1992 Constitution, and thus unconstitutional.

(b) A declaration that on a true and proper interpretation of Articles 17(1) and 17(2), Guideline 3.2.10 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods published by the 1st Defendant on February 1, 2016, which prohibits well-known personalities and professionals from advertising alcoholic products, is inconsistent with and in contravention of Articles 17(1) and 17(2) of the 1992 Constitution, which guarantee equality before the law and prohibit discrimination against persons on grounds of social or economic status, occupation, among others, and consequently null, void, and unenforceable.

(c) An order striking down Guideline 3.2.10 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods published by the 1st Defendant on February 1, 2016, as being inconsistent with and in contravention of the letter and spirit of the 1992 Constitution, and as such nullified.

(d) An order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants, their agents, servants, or assigns under the pretext of acting under Guideline 3.2.10 of the Guidelines for the Advertisement of Foods published by the 1st Defendant on 1 February, 2016, from doing anything to prevent any well-known personality or professional from advertising alcoholic products.

With additional file from Starrfmonline

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