Talk of the beer tie was banned from mediation

By Matt Eley Matt

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags The agenda Mediation Bbpa

The beer tie was dropped from the agenda of the recent pub trade mediation sessions after an intervention by British Beer & Pub Association...

The beer tie was dropped from the agenda of the recent pub trade mediation sessions after an intervention by British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) lawyers, The Publican​ has learnt.

Despite parties from across the industry meeting to address major concerns raised in the Business and Enterprise Committee report, reform of the tie was not up for discussion.

This is because BBPA lawyers said it would be illegal to make any binding decisions on the issue on behalf of their members.

The revelations go some way to explaining the clear split between the BBPA and other trade bodies that has emerged since mediation.

A source who attended the sessions told The Publican​: "Lawyers representing the BBPA said that due to the nature of the BBPA representing individual pub companies it would be contrary to rules of competition law for an agreement to be made by the BBPA because effectively private companies would be acting as a cartel.

"Its argument was that strictly speaking it would be against competition law to discuss the tie."

Instead, discussions focused on improving codes of practice and the eventual formation of the Independent Pub Confederation.

Mark Hastings, the BBPA's director of communications, said the organisation was unable to comment.

"We are going to continue with our legal obligation to follow the confidentiality agreement that was part of the mediation process," he said.

Meanwhile, writing in the latest edition of the Society of Independent Brewers' (SIBA) Journal magazine chief executive Julian Grocock said while the group was "frustrated" that alternative tie options were not discussed during mediation the trade was showing progress.

SIBA, which is one of the groups that have joined the IPC, had hoped to present an 'Easy Pub' option during mediation whereby lessees could vary their tie deal over time by paying more rent.

Grocock wrote: "I believe that both our IPC colleagues and our friends at the BBPA understand and appreciate the standpoint we have taken.

"Indeed there may not be as much of a gulf between the two sides as has been reported.

"The changes are coming - it is really a matter of the speed of their arrival and the method of their introduction."

Government minister Kevin Brennan recently said in Parliament that it was too early to say if it would intervene over the tie - and urged the industry to "work closely together and to deliver on their commitments". "We will be monitoring the situation closely," he added.

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