PUBS CODE

Adjudicator for pubs code by May 2016

By Ellie Bothwell contact

- Last updated on GMT

Industry figures say there are still changes that need to be implemented to ensure the code is workable
Industry figures say there are still changes that need to be implemented to ensure the code is workable

Related tags: Pubs code adjudicator, Landlord, 2016, Government

A pubs code adjudicator will be in place by May 2016 at the latest, the Government has confirmed.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​ that the statutory code is expected to come into force before the end of May 2016 with an adjudicator “up and running” prior to this date.

He added discussion on the implementation of the code and its adjudicator will get under way with ministers once a new government is in place following the general election on 7 May.

It is expected the government will publish a new draft code to reflect the final legislation as passed by Parliament, as the previous draft was published before the market-rent-only (MRO) clause was inserted. There will then be a consultation on all aspects of this revised version.

The Government has already confirmed that there will be consultation on re-moving temporary tenancies from the scope of the legislation and defining types of franchises to be excluded.

The code will then be reviewed two years after it comes into force.

'Still changes needed'

Tenant representatives and pub companies welcomed the Small Business, Enterprise & Employment Bill, which includes the pubs code, receiving royal assent last week​, but said there were still changes that needed to be implemented to ensure the code was workable.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, said: “The Government has signalled it will use secondary legislation to exempt ‘true’ franchises where no rent is paid, permit a deferral of the MRO in return for in-vestment and remove temporary agreements under a certain length of time from the legislation.

“Many pubs are unique in their offer and therefore there is a real need for flexibility to create the right solution for individual premises.”

'Sliding scale of relief'

Martin Caffrey, operations director at the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations, said it was of “vital importance” that franchises were included in the scope of the code.

Regarding capital investment from pub companies, he said he would support “some form of sliding scale of relief” from MRO dependent on the level of investment and also “a similar level of scrutiny” for a tenant who co-invests.

Fair Pint campaigner Simon Clarke said his greatest concern was protection for tenants whose pubs were sold by a code-compliant company to a non code-compliant company.

“I expect [family brewers] will be acquiring pubco pubs with tied tenants and then ‘encouraging’ the tenants to leave [by offering] restricted product choice, increased prices and hefty dilapidation claims.

“They will then convert to managed and maintain a tied tenanted estate under the 500 threshold, avoiding code compliance,” he said.

'Not the end'

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, warned that the Bill becoming enshrined in law was “not the end, but rather the start of a process”.

“All sides of the industry now need to work with the Government, officials and politicians to ensure that the code is comprehensive, workable and delivers the right regulatory framework to secure future investment and stability across the sector,” she said.

Related topics: Legislation

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