BBPA sets out pubs code system in Scotland

By Helen Gilbert

- Last updated on GMT

Open invitation: pubgoers are urged to contribute to a consultation for a Scottish pubs code
Open invitation: pubgoers are urged to contribute to a consultation for a Scottish pubs code

Related tags: Beer, Renting

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has moved to clarify suggestions that there is no code governing pubs in Scotland and warned that the legislative route is ‘not always the best solution’. 

In a statement, the body reiterated that PIRRS (Pubs Independent Rent Review Scheme) and PICA-Service (Pubs Independent Conciliation and Arbitration Service) are available to Scottish tenants and lessees.

The reminder comes after the Campaign for Real Ale issued a statement earlier this week encouraging pubgoers to contribute to a consultation brought forward by Neil Bibby MSP, which is investigating whether a pubs code and adjudicator is needed in Scotland to govern the relationship between tied pub tenants and the large pub companies.

The draft bill would also consider whether a market-rent-only (MRO) option should be introduced, which would allow licensees to buy their beer on the open market rather than having to buy directly from the pubco and the prices they set.

However, British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds said there was an industry pubs code specific to Scotland developed by the BBPA and others to which its members are signed up.

“There are Scottish-based PIRRS experts available for rent disputes, and any hearings would be held in Scotland,” she said.

Safeguarding tenants

Simmonds added: “Other code disputes can also be heard by PICA-Service in Scotland.

“This safeguards Scottish tenants, and it is worth adding that the structure of the pub industry in Scotland is different to that in England, with just 17% of pubs operating as leased or tenanted, compared with 40% in the UK as a whole, and with a wide selection of beers to foster consumer choice.

“We need systems that work in the best interests of Scottish pubs, and the legislative route is not always the best solution.”

The consultation, Proposed Tied Pubs (Code and Adjudicator) (Scotland) Bill closes on 31 July 2017.

The bills committee then has 12 weeks to determine whether or not the bill should progress any further.

Business and consumer interests

"We would like to encourage anyone who values their local pub to take part in this consultation, which could have a huge impact on the future of the industry,” said Sarah Bellis, CAMRA director for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"For far too long, large pub companies have been taking more than is fair or sustainable from pub profits by forcing licensees to buy their beer from them rather than on the open market. Furthermore, there is no set code of practice in place or independent arbitrator available if a licensee has an issue with that pub company.”

Labour MSP Neil Bibby claimed the bill was about protecting both business and consumer interests across Scotland.

“It is about fairness for Scotland's publicans, greater choice for pubgoers, and is an opportunity to safeguard and create jobs in Scotland's valuable pub and brewing industry,” he added.

“Tied arrangements pose a real threat to our pubs and bars, so it's important that we take this opportunity to protect them.”

Related topics: Legislation

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