New University Of York Research Shows Need For Change To Make Pubs Code Fit For Purpose

Academics at the University of York have published a paper looking into the effectiveness of the Pubs Code adjudicator. The paper is a detailed analysis of the adjudicator, which oversees over the Pubs Code Regulations 2016 and intervenes in the contractual relationships between the largest pub-owning companies and their tied tenants.

Drawing on a sample of interviews with affected tenants, arbitration data, and legal appeals, Jed Meers and Liz Hind argue that there is a series of limitations with both the function of the regulations and the adjudicator model itself.

The duo note: “In particular, our findings demonstrate the use of delaying tactics, the interaction of code adjudication with the parties’ existing contractual relationships, and issues with the application of arbitration ‘burden of proof’ standards to the exercise of duties under the statutory code.

Commenting on the publication of new academic research by Liz Hind and Jed Meers of the University of York on the operation of the statutory Pubs Code in England and Wales, CAMRA Chairman Nik Antona said: “The evidence from hard working licencees running tied pubs on which this paper is based backs up what CAMRA has been telling the Government for years – that the Pubs Code needs substantial changes to make sure the Code is fit for purpose.

“Tied pub tenants need proper reform of the Pubs Code to make sure that they are property supported as they recover from the impact of the pandemic, rather than subjected to unfair or potentially unlawful treatment.

“Ministers are currently consulting on small changes to the Code and must, as this research suggests, make improvements to the arbitration process.

“However, the upcoming second statutory review of the Code must make more widespread and meaningful change to make sure the Code’s principles of ‘no worse off’ and ‘fair and lawful dealing’ are applied in practice.

“CAMRA is also calling on the Scottish Government to learn the lessons from this research to make sure that the forthcoming statutory Pubs Code in Scotland is fit for purpose from day one.”