Request for pubs code arbitration on the rise

By Liam Coleman contact

- Last updated on GMT

Busy: Newby has received 121 arbitration requests in six months
Busy: Newby has received 121 arbitration requests in six months

Related tags: Pubs code adjudicator, Renting, Leasehold estate

Figures released by pubs code adjudicator (PCA) Paul Newby show that there have been, on average, more than 20 requests for him to step in and adjudicate every month since the pubs code became law six months ago.

In the six months between the pubs code becoming law on 21 July up to 21 January, Newby has revealed that he received a total of 121 requests for arbitration – more than 20 every month.

This shows that requests from tenants for arbitration are speeding up; with figures in November​ showing that 79 requests for arbitration had been received over four months – a figure that works at as slightly lower than 20 every month.

The leading issues for arbitration are whether pubcos are issuing full responses to requests for a market-rent-only (MRO) option and what they need to provide tenants with at the time of rent assessments, according to Newby's office.

Commenting on the figures, Newby said: "Calls are continuing to be received by the PCA at a high rate and referrals for arbitration are still rising. This is a very significant level of engagement from tied pub tenants. I am receiving a great deal of information and I am building a good picture of what is happening in the industry.

The adjudicator has emphasised the "complex" nature of several of the referrals that he has received, saying: "I am committed to resolving all arbitrations without undue delay. However, some are complex cases and, as the legislation is new, many are the first of a kind.

"They cannot be completed overnight and each party must be given an opportunity to make their case. Individual cases and the requirements of the parties will be different in each case. There can be no one-size-that-fits-all in terms of the length of time a case will take."

More than 400 enquiries

When the code took effect, a code enquiry line was also set up. The latest statistics released show that 435 enquiries have been received by that line in the past six months, with 91% of the enquiries coming from tied tenants or their representatives.

The line has primarily received enquiries around rent assessments, MRO and tenancy renewal. Newby said that the figures show "the scale of the task for the pubs code adjudicator".

"The figures I have released today also demonstrate the scale of the task for the PCA. I am working with my team to deal efficiently and effectively with the referrals. In recent weeks, I have increased my office resources to support this work and I expect some of the early cases to be completed shortly," he said.

'Need for further guidance'

Commenting on the figures, the chair of the British Beer & Pub Association Brigid Simmonds said: "There is clearly good awareness of the code and this serves to highlight the need for further guidance from the adjudicator over the coming months, and we and our members are working closely with his office. 

"We also now have an opportunity to show the benefits of tenancies and leases with supply agreements and continue to build on the industry’s own voluntary schemes, as we have seen the PGB (Pub Governing Body) do today, with the announcement that those in the part of the sector subject to statutory regulation can now opt to have the benefits of the PIRRS (Pubs Independent Rent Review Scheme) service."

Related topics: Legislation

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