Tobacco distributor JTI Ireland has been successful in its bid to prevent a referral to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) of issues over a new law bringing in plain packaging on its products.

Minister for Health and the State had sought to have the CJEU deal with questions, including whether the 2014 EU Tobacco Products Directive is valid, in advance of the hearing of JTI's challenge here to the new legislation.

The State also wanted the CJEU to decide, in the event of it finding the directive invalid, whether member states derive the competence to enact plain packaging legislation from the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU).

In the Commercial Court today, Mr Justice Brian Cregan rejected the State's application saying there was already a reference to the CJEU in being from the courts of England and Wales on the same issue of validity of the directive.

He said it was "neither necessary nor appropriate that I should refer either of the questions to the CJEU at this stage of the proceedings.

"It would be unnecessary, premature and wasteful of costs". It means JTI's case will go ahead as normal in the Commercial Court.

The CJEU  is expected to hear in October or November the reference from the English courts dealing with the validity of the 2014 directive.

In its action before the Commercial Court, JTI  claims the new legislation, due to apply to products manufactured or released by May 2016,  is contrary to EU harmonisation objectives and an obstacle to trade between member states.

JTI  also claims it will distort and impair the dynamics of competition in the tobacco market.

It seeks orders preventing the Minister for Health, Ireland and the Attorney General from commencing the provisions of the Public Health (Standardised Packaging of Tobacco) Act 2015.

JTI says the standardised packaging law imposes stricter rules than those necessary to transpose a 2014 EU directive.