Supreme Court throws out suit challenging FDA ban on celebrities alcoholic adverts

The Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkornoo, has dismissed Mark Darlington Osae’s lawsuit challenging the Food and Drugs Authority’s (FDA) ban on celebrities appearing in alcoholic beverage advertisements.

The decision was supported by a majority of 5 justices out of 7 on the panel, who deemed the FDA’s directive as not excessive or unreasonable. The Court concluded that the directive does not violate constitutional provisions.

However, Justices Barbara Ackah Yensu and Prof. Henrietta Mensah Bonsu dissented from the majority opinion. The Court announced that a detailed explanation of the 5-2 majority decision will be available by Friday, June 21, 2024.

Mark Osae, the manager of Reggie ‘N’ Bollie and Skrewfaze, has taken legal action against the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) in Ghana. His grievance is centered on the FDA’s directive banning celebrities from advertising alcoholic beverages. Osae filed a lawsuit at the Supreme Court on November 11, 2022, arguing that the FDA’s regulation discriminates against the creative arts industry.

Osae, who also holds the role of music publisher at Perfect Note Publishing and serves as Chairman and Co-Founder of Ghana Music Alliance, asserts that the FDA’s directive infringes upon constitutional rights. Specifically, he argues that the directive violates articles 17(1) and 17(2) of Ghana’s 1992 Constitution.

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

The FDA’s directives discourage the use of  celebrities in the promotion of alcoholic beverages via any medium.

This policy forms part of the efforts by the government of Ghana to protect children and young people from alcohol marketing.

However, the plaintiff ignores this reality and argues that the child protection measure would rob the entertainment industry of potential streams of income.

In the writ issued on November 11, 2022, the plaintiff, Mark Darlington Osae said those areas of the FDA’s 2015 regulations are tantamount to discrimination on grounds of economic status, and occupation among others.

The artist, manager, and music publisher is thus asking the Supreme Court to render as unconstitutional the guidelines which stipulate that, “No well-known personality or professional shall be used in alcoholic beverage advertising.” Mr. Darlington Osae is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Ghana Music Alliance.

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