Talking to the industry

By Fiona Dickie, pubs code adjudicator

- Last updated on GMT

Education expansion: pubs code adjudicator Fiona Dickie outlines how she is delivering her message of compliance
Education expansion: pubs code adjudicator Fiona Dickie outlines how she is delivering her message of compliance

Related tags Legislation Pubs code Pubs code adjudicator

In my role as pubs code adjudicator (PCA), I meet with a whole range of people across the industry to promote the pubs code and deliver my message of compliance, whether that is talking with tied tenants, with the regulated pub companies, or with others who have an interest in the code.

Engaging in this way increases the reach of the code and provides me with valuable insights into the trade. In the midst of another busy month, I thought it might help to give a flavour of what this looks like.

Connecting about the Code

Since Covid restrictions were lifted it has been good to be out and about again. I was pleased to be invited to the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, CAMRA-hosted receptions at both this year’s Labour Party conference in Liverpool and the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.

I took the opportunity to meet with industry figures, and to engage with MPs and other party delegates to talk about the pubs code as one part of the wider political landscape affecting pubs. I can add my voice to helping everyone understand about the pressures on the industry. The newly appointed Minister for Enterprise and Markets, Dean Russell MP, is now in post. I look forward to providing him with insight into the work of my team and the importance of code rights in supporting tenants in these turbulent economic conditions.

At a recent one-day conference in Oxford I was able to meet many industry regulators to hear about how regulation takes place in other sectors, each of which is quite different. It was an opportunity to develop ideas on how being more public about pub company compliance can build trust within the sector and show where they are willing to cooperate to bring about the right outcome for tenants.

This week I’ll be meeting with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators as we approach the end of their first year of managing our arbitration scheme. My new data release​ shows they are currently handling only 19 open arbitrations of pubs code disputes, in contrast to the 118 open cases back in June 2018. So much has changed for the better about the way arbitrations take place since then.

Last month all arbitrators went through the first dedicated pubs code training course. In future I’ll be offering training on the code to trade professionals like accountants and surveyors. This is all part of making sure tenants can access quality advice on their pubs code rights.

Reaching tenants

Using technology is still the best way to engage sometimes, particularly for busy tied tenants. In the summer I was pleased to be invited to do a Lock in Podcast ​for the Morning Advertiser and I’m about to join a podcast for Admiral tenants about how the code can support them in their businesses.  I am also holding further meetings with tied tenant representatives shortly. This is all in addition to the in-person trade shows and events my team and I attend, like those I spoke about in a previous column​.

I also publish written materials to engage publicly about the code and help tenants to understand it, to which my team and I often refer when talking with tenants. This includes a letter from me sent to each prospective and new tied tenant​, introducing them to the PCA and the code.

Tenants may also want to read our latest factsheet explaining pub companies’ code duties in relation to the repairs and dilapidations​. Clear information about these rights is important, given that my recent survey shows particular dissatisfaction among tenants of some pub companies about how these are being managed. I will be engaging with the pub companies to see how they are applying the code provisions and how tenant satisfaction can be improved.

My eyes and ears are always open, and I remind anyone with information they wish to share with me to contact my office at office@pubscodeadjudicator.gov.uk.

This column is intended to aid industry understanding about the pubs code and its impact. Nothing in it should be understood as a substitute for the pubs code legal framework.

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