Licensee feels MRO application is taking a 'billion years’ to process

By Georgina Townshend contact

- Last updated on GMT

Frustrated: a licensee still has no decision on his MRO application 14 months on
Frustrated: a licensee still has no decision on his MRO application 14 months on
A licensee has expressed his utter frustration after having no decision made on his market-rent-only (MRO) option application after more than 14 months.

Brian Mathias, licensee of Star Pubs & Bars site the Bell on the Green, Feltham, south-west London, applied for an MRO option on 17 October 2016, but said he was still awaiting a decision from the pubs code adjudicator's office. 

After attempts to contact pubs code adjudicator (PCA) Paul Newby, several meetings with his solicitor, and a visit from his MP Seema Malhotra, Mathias last heard in November that his case had been handed over to the newly appointed deputy pubs code adjudicator (DPCA), Fiona Dickie.

He said: “Things are not moving forward as it they should be. The process is frustratingly slow and doesn't serve its purpose.

“I applied 14 months ago for the MRO, and still there is no any outcome or update in the application.

“If I had dreamt about how this indiscriminate process would take nearly a billion years to conclude, I would have not bothered to spend an enormous amount of money and my precious time."

Mathias said his day-to-day businesses had been affected by the delay due to there being "no clarity in the system", and that he feels there is "no one who will listen or hear the issues".

In October, Rachel Reeves MP, the chair of the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) select committee, wrote to the PCA requesting information​ about how many tied pub tenants had obtained new market-rent-only agreements.

The letter also emphasised the PCA was under scrutiny following concerns about the time it is taking tenants to complete the arbitration process.

However, Newby said he is "constantly looking for opportunities to accelerate​" the pubs code arbitration process.

Increased resources

In response to Mathias, a PCA spokesman said: “The PCA cannot comment on individual cases. 

"In respect of arbitrations generally, these are legal processes for resolving disputes and have procedures that must be followed. 

"Paul Newby has responded to concerns about the time and cost of pursuing arbitrations by significantly increasing the resources in his office. 

"This includes appointing a deputy pubs code adjudicator​ and introducing improvements to the management of cases in order to speed up the process. The intention is to progress arbitrations as quickly as possible.”

Related topics: Legislation

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