PCA: discussions ongoing with pubcos over waiving confidentiality

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Ongoing discussions: the PCA is talking to pub-owning businesses about waiving confidentiality in arbitration awards
Ongoing discussions: the PCA is talking to pub-owning businesses about waiving confidentiality in arbitration awards

Related tags: Pca, Pubs code, Punch, Ei Group, Star pubs & bars, Marston's pub company, Admiral

The office of the pubs code adjudicator (PCA) has said discussions are ongoing with pub-owning businesses concerning its call to waive confidentiality in arbitration awards.

Pub-owning businesses were expected to confirm whether they would agree to the PCA’s request for more transparency by 19 ​April 2018.

The six pubcos covered by the pubs code – Admiral Taverns, Marston’s, Star Pubs & Bars, Punch, Greene King and EI Group – were asked to reply with their views by that date.

Reviewing responses

A PCA spokesperson said: “The PCA requested responses from pub-owning businesses in relation to waiving confidentiality in arbitrations by 19 April 2018 and is reviewing all information received.

“Discussions are ongoing between the PCA and pub-owning businesses, and further information will be published in due course. The PCA remains committed to enabling fair dealing between tenants and their pub-owning businesses.”

Last week, The Morning Advertiser​ revealed the details of a meeting on 26 March 2018​ where the PCA said there should be more transparency in pubs code arbitrations where there is no commercial sensitivity to protect. 

Potential for 'unfairness'

Deputy PCA Fiona Dickie also told members of the Campaign for Real Ale that keeping the arbitration rulings confidential had the potential for “unfairness”.

British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “It is for individual companies to decide whether they agree to arbitration decisions being published, but legally it is clear that under the Arbitration Act both parties to any decision must consent before any publication.

“Every pub is unique and, as the PCA has made clear, all arbitration decisions are different. The BBPA and the six companies covered by the statutory code are working with the PCA to help them publish ‘golden threads’ from arbitration decisions that will help both pub companies and tenants to understand the issues better.”

Support pledged 

Star Pubs & Bars said it supported the move in principle to bring more transparency to the system.

A Star Pubs & Bars spokesperson said: “We’ve asked the PCA to clarify that publication is compatible with the law on arbitration, data protection rules and commercial confidentiality for tenants and pub companies. Assuming those points can be resolved, we will support a system where all decisions are published in full.”

Punch code compliance officer James Richards said: “We acknowledge that accessibility of principles set by precedent is a benefit to all involved and are working with the PCA office to explore a way of addressing this.”

Admiral and EI Group declined to comment.

At the time of publication there was no response from Marston’s or Greene King.  

Related topics: Licensing law, Legislation

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