The Government plans to introduce a minimum unit price for alcohol by October 2014.
The proposals for a minimum unit price of 40p were made as part of the Government's alcohol strategy, details of which were released in March this year.
The Home Office's Business Plan for 2012-15 indicated that it wanted a minimum price per unit of alcohol to be introduced by October 2014.
However, the process could be delayed if the proposed measure faces a legal challenge.
The Home Office is now likely to look to Scotland to see whether it succeeds in sticking to its timetable.
The Scottish Government, which has proposed a minimum unit price of 50p, is expected to notify the EU about its plans this month. Once the Scottish Government does so, there will be a three-month period during which complaints can be lodged against the measure - the Scottish Government will then have three months to respond.
The measure could then subsequently face legal challenges both in Scotland and Europe - increasingly the likelihood of lengthy delays before its introduction.
By Neil Gerrard
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