MOSCOW, August 15 - RAPSI. The High Court of Australia held Wednesday that the passage of a controversial new law requiring that all tobacco products be sold in packages featuring graphic images of the negative health consequences of smoking does not violate the country’s constitutional guarantee that property will not be acquisitioned by the parliament on unjust terms.

In accordance with the law, which was passed by royal assent on December 1, 2011, all tobacco products will be required to be sold in matte brown packages. According to a factsheet issued by the Australian parliament, “[t]he only thing on the packs to distinguish one brand from another will be the brand and variant name in a standard colour, position, font size and style.” The otherwise indistinct drabness of the packages will be broken up by large, highly graphic images depicting the negative impact smoking can have.

Immediately following the law’s passage, British American Tobacco (BAT) initiated proceedings against the government in the High Court of Australia. Global tobacco giants Philip Morris, JT International SA Van Nelle Tabak, and Imperial Tobacco Australia Ltd. issued writs during the course of proceedings challenging the law as well. According to a submission entered by the plaintiffs early on, of primary concern in the case was whether the act legalized activity that would constitute an acquisition, and if so, whether such acquisitions would be, “otherwise than on just terms.” The Australian constitution mandates that any governmental acquisition must be on just terms.

The High Court rendered its decision on Wednesday that the law is not impermissible under the constitution. The court issued only a short statement to that effect, and noted that its reasoning will be released at a later date.

Shortly thereafter, the Australian government issued a statement lauding the court decision: “The Gillard Government today welcomed the decision of the High Court of Australia to reject the legal challenge by big tobacco against Australia’s world-leading plain packaging of tobacco laws…. No longer when a smoker pulls out a packet of cigarettes will that packet be a mobile billboard.”

BAT followed suit with its own statement lambasting the court decision: “We are extremely disappointed by the decision of the Australian High Court and remain convinced that the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act is not only a bad piece of law, but that it is one that will have many unintended consequences for years to come.” The company further pledged to continue its fight by any means necessary in order to protect its brand and its right to compete on the international market.

Philip Morris issued a statement Tuesday voicing both its disregard for the ruling, and its confidence in legal battles still to come. Speaking to the issue, Philip Morris spokesperson Chris Argent explained, “[w]e will have to wait to read the court’s opinion to fully assess today’s decision.

Regardless, the legality of plain packaging, including whether Australia will have to pay substantial compensation to Philip Morris Asia, remains at issue and will be considered in other ongoing legal challenges.” The company and its subsidiaries are currently engaged in two other legal battles it has waged on the packaging law: one based on Australia’s status as a World Trade Organization member, and one based on Australia’s alleged breaches of its Bilateral Investment Treaty with Hong Kong.