Pubs code adjudicator urged to publish evidence of improvements

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Call for evidence: a tied licensee wants pubs code adjudicator Paul Newby to prove the pubs code has improved tenants' lives
Call for evidence: a tied licensee wants pubs code adjudicator Paul Newby to prove the pubs code has improved tenants' lives

Related tags Pca Pubs code

Pubs code adjudicator (PCA) Paul Newby has been urged to publish evidence of the improvements the pubs code has brought for tied tenants, in an open letter from a tied tenant.

The letter, from Gary Murphy, licensee at Ye Olde Mitre pub in Barnet, north London, is a response to comments from the PCA that progress that has been made to support tenants under the code.

Murphy strongly rejected suggestions that there has been progress or that negotiations between tenants and pub companies have been improved.

Murphy has been waiting for a decision from the PCA on his own case for 15 months. He said this experience was “typical” and “not a picture of a process that is working on any level”.

No resolution

Commenting on the experience of other tenants he said recent arbitration results “do not provide a resolution for the parties as would be expected in any other arbitration”, citing lengthy delays and a lack of specific resolutions.

“To simply say a market-rent-only (MRO) proposal is not compliant and another proposal must be submitted, particularly after 12 or 24 months of delay, solves absolutely nothing for those parties,” he wrote.

“You also need to provide resolution for existing cases particularly after very long delays.”

Confidence lost

Murphy added: “The active tenant community is in despair at what is happening and has lost confidence in your office.”

The appointment last year of a deputy PCA, Fiona Dickie, had given him hope, he said. But he added: “Subsequent public statements and a lack of definitive action and arbitration results has eroded that initial confidence.”

He continued: “It is, in my opinion, critically important that you now provide more information and evidence to support your strategies and the positive impact you say that these are having on the pubco/tenant relations, and the accessibility of MRO.”

Fair dealing expected

A spokesperson for the PCA said: “The pubs code expects fair and lawful dealing by pub companies.

“The PCA has focused its resources on enabling this through meaningful negotiation, for example greater use of oral hearings in arbitrations and encouraging early settlements.

“It has also issued advice on what is and what is not acceptable practice around MRO negotiations and published a Regulatory Compliance Handbook​ that sets out what is expected of pub companies in relation to their relationships with tied tenants, particularly around meaningful engagement and negotiation."

Better negotiating power

The spokesperson added: “There are reports from pub companies and tenant representatives that the pubs code is giving tied pub tenants better negotiating power.

“The PCA wants to understand the reasons behind this and is implementing a confidential questionnaire to obtain feedback from tied pub tenants.”

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