The information, published this week, outlines how the pubs code adjudicator will decide whether or not to investigate a pub company, as well as when and which enforcement powers will be used.
The investigation and enforcement process will go as follows:
- Complaints can be made by anyone – from tenants to rival pub companies and whistle blowers.
- When the adjudicator receives a complaint of a breach of the code, he will take account of the impact of the alleged breach; if an investigation will prevent further similar breaches; the benefits of an investigation; and if an investigation would be proportionate for the alleged breach, before opening an official investigation.
- Once an investigation into a complaint has been received, evidence will be called for. This evidence can come from anybody who might have information, knowledge or evidence that can aid the investigation. Similarly, the evidence could be any relevant document, such as a tenancy agreement, rent proposal or statement of the nature of a tie.
- At the end of each investigation, Newby will publish a report of his findings, the action that is being taken and the reason for that judgement being reached.
- If a penalty is going to be issued to a pub company, the severity of the penalty will take account of whether the offender's behaviour will change; if any financial gain has been eliminated; how it would be relevant to the specific circumstances; how it would be proportionate; if it reverses harm; and if it deters future non-compliance. The penalty could range from a recommendation to the offending company, a request for documents to be published, or a penalty of up to 1% of annual turnover for the company.
A 'major milestone'
Following the publication of the guidance, Newby said: “This is an important document that demonstrates my commitment to be a force for fair agreement between tied pub tenants and the six largest pub owning businesses.
"Before publishing the guidance I carried out a wide consultation on my proposals, listened to what both tenants and pub-owning businesses had to say and took the views of those who responded into account.
“There can be no doubt that I will be resolute in standing up for the principles of fair and lawful dealing and tied tenants being no worse off than if they were not tied. I am pleased that we have reached this major milestone during British Pub Week, which does much to raise awareness of the importance of pubs to the British way of life.”