Shepherd Neame, the independent pub operator and brewer, is considering taking its fight against January's penny-per-pint increase in beer duty to the Court of Appeal, following its defeat last week in the High Court.

The Kent-based company had argued that the increase broke European law on the harmonisation of EU duty rates. It sought leave to take the case to the European Court of Justice, but judges ruled that the 3% increase was merely keeping step with inflation and that other European states had done the same.

Although it has financial backing from a number of other independent brewers, Shepherd Neame is understood to be looking closely at the costs of continuing its fight before deciding whether to proceed.

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