BBPA assures MPs over direct debit fines

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bbpa chief executive, Member of parliament, Bbpa

Claimed charges: Natwest refunded Bally and Lesley Auluk
Claimed charges: Natwest refunded Bally and Lesley Auluk
The BBPA has written to MPs investigating pubcos saying it's "not aware" of its members taking fines directly from licensees' bank accounts.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has written to MPs investigating pub companies saying it's "not aware" of its member pubcos taking fines directly from licensees' bank accounts.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds told the Business, Innovation & Skills Committee (BISC) in December she was not aware of the practice taking place. BISC chairman Peter Luff asked Simmonds for written assurance that the "unacceptable" method "will end immediately".

The BBPA said it has now re-affirmed Simmonds' statements in a letter to Luff.

"Current industry practice is that the deduction of any fines by direct debit has to have permission from the account holder, and we are not aware of instances where this isn't the case," said the group.

The issue came to light last summer when Enterprise lessee Lesley Auluk clawed back £3,946 in fines for buying out.

NatWest refunded her after agreeing the charges, taken directly from her account, were unauthorised.

Cookseys DMP managing director David Morgan, who advised Auluk, said it shows the inability of the BBPA to dictate policies for its members — for example, through its framework code of practice.

Industry advisor Phil Dixon said: "I concur with the BBPA that I don't think this [practice occurs] now, but there's no doubt that some BBPA companies have been using Brulines' data to say that licensees are guilty and taking charges without approval.

"Frankly it's such an out-rageous practice I'm pleased that I believe this has now ceased."

At the BISC hearing in December, Luff said he was "concerned" that Simmonds was unaware of the practice for taking fines.

The MP said: "Many thousands of pounds have been taken from lessees' bank accounts on the basis of just an interpretation of Brulines' data."

Related topics: Other operators, Legislation

Property of the week

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more