PCA defends slow progress on MRO cases as 'reducing risks'

By Claire Churchard contact

- Last updated on GMT

Risk mitigation: the PCA says all MRO cases are dealt with in a proper and lawful manner
Risk mitigation: the PCA says all MRO cases are dealt with in a proper and lawful manner

Related tags: Pca, Dispute resolution, Public house

The pubs code adjudicator (PCA) has defended the slow pace of its progress on market-rent-only (MRO) option cases, after a group of pub operators called the body a “rabbit in the headlights” for its perceived inaction.

The letter,​ signed by 12 pub operators and sent to Government minister Marcus Jones, said the PCA and the pubs code had failed to regulate and adjudicate the MRO process in a fair and expeditious manner.

It said that this “inertia” was failing tied-tenants' rights to MRO.

Letter signatories also raised concerns about the cost of the prolonged process, which has already amounted to around £50,000 in professional service fees for three of the operators concerned.

In response to the letter, the PCA repeated its previous statement that it “cannot comment on individual cases as these are confidential to the parties involved” because parliament requires the adjudicator to deal with MRO disputes through arbitration. 

A statement from the PCA said: “While recognising there is frustration with some of the first cases going through this process, all cases referred to the PCA are being dealt with in a proper and lawful manner. To do otherwise would simply increase the risk of challenge with the inevitable consequence of greater delay and cost.” 

It said that the pace at which arbitrations proceed is primarily governed by the parties in the dispute, including the speed at which evidence is brought to the PCA and the scale and complexity of the arguments in particular cases. “This is new law that is being tested by the parties and their solicitors on both sides. The PCA is not able to make decisions until the evidence in a case is complete,” it added.

The PCA also said that it had proposed an arbitration test case to set precedents for a number of cases with similar issues. It said it had “explored the option with both sides of the stakeholder community” but that it had not been possible because the two sides could not agree an approach. 

Related topics: Legislation

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