Pubs Code adjudicator (PCA) Paul Newby has set out the initial results of his fact-finding exercise into tied pub tenants.
This has been welcomed by the Forum of Private Business, but it expressed disappointment that it has taken him too long to engage in this way with tenants.
Ian Cass, chief executive of the forum, said: “The forum has been lobbying Mr Newby, since his appointment over two years ago, to be much more pro-active in taking real feedback from tenants who, we know, have for a long while been treated unfairly by the major suppliers.
“We hope now that he will take good note of their plight and act upon their feedback without delay. We will be engaging with forum members and Mr Newby to ensure our members are heard.”
The British and Beer Pub Association is not pleased, either, saying the PCA seems to have sought views from only one side.
Chief executive, Brigid Simmonds, said: “The report is one-sided, anecdotal, not evidence based and lacking in transparency — nor does it include any views from the pub companies on how the legislation is working. It has been published despite an ongoing request from the PCA for additional information from the six pub operators relating to the issues raised in this publication which is not due to be received by him until the end of the week.
“The report ignores the fact that that the legislation was put in place to correct a perceived imbalance in the relationship between pub company and tenant. As such, the number of new [market rent only] agreements must not be seen as the only measure of success. Indeed, evidence shows the renegotiation of tied deals is delivering exactly what the consultation and the subsequent legislation intended.”
She added: “We are determined to make the pubs code work. As with all new legislation, there are always challenges in bedding it in, including raising awareness, interpreting the rules, managing differing expectations, and dealing with unintended consequences. For this reason, we had suggested that a transitional period was necessary, but this was not secured.
“Only the adjudicator can progress some of these issues, through taking decisions on pending cases and publishing the guidance we all need, to move forward. In specific cases, clarification may be needed through the courts. Publications such as this are a distraction from these vital tasks.”