The code, which came into force on 21 July, aims to ensure tied pubco tenants are no worse off than if they were free of tie, and the PCA has a duty to investigate disputes and breaches of the code.
But a consultation into how breaches of the code would be investigated and punished was only published last week, to the astonishment of the Pubs Advisory Service who claimed it shows a ‘lack of urgency’ from Government.
Co-founder Dave Mountford told The Morning Advertiser there had been systematic breaches of the code by pubcos already - which cannot be dealt with effectively without a procedure in place.
“We are amazed that this consultation was not carried out as a priority as it was no great surprise that these companies would be in breach of the code from day one - which is in fact the case,” he said.
Mountford claimed he had been in contact with licensees who are seeking rent reviews, but pubcos are withholding key information in rent proposals.
“To comply with the MRO procedure, tenants are under strict time constraints and yet the PCA office is consulting on how to respond until the 30 September,” Mountford continued.
“The fact that there is no procedure in place to respond to breaches in the code demonstrates it was not ready on 21 July.”
The consultation sets out the guidance that the office of the PCA intends to follow when considering whether to carry out an investigation, and the approach it will take on penalties and enforcement.
The PCA explained that Parliament required the office to run a consultation for stakeholders before publishing its guidance.
“In the meantime it does not prevent the PCA from gathering information on alleged breaches and continuing to consider what action may be appropriate to take, formal or informal, in addition to arbitrating individual disputes,” a spokesman said.
“We’re very happy to meet with stakeholders who have specific information and evidence they want to share with us.
“We are also ready to arbitrate disputes formally referred to us in relation to specific cases.”
The final version of the investigation and enforcement guidance will be published ‘in line with the timetable set by Parliament’, the spokesman explained.
The PCA has published information for tenants on its website.
It also offers an enquiry line on 0800 528 8080 where anyone can ring for more information about the code.