Forum of Private Business celebrates as Highwayman beats up Mr Punch

The Forum of Private Business (FPB) has welcomed the High Court decision to enforce the terms of the Pub Code against Punch Partnerships PTL Limited and Star Pubs and Bars Limited in favour of the Highwayman Pub in Kidlington.

The High Court decision to force Punch Partnerships to offer reasonable Market Rate Option (MRO) terms to the Highwayman pub follows two appeals to the Pub Code Adjudicator (PCA) by the Highwayman, both upheld by the PCA but rejected by Punch Partnerships, and is the first precedent derived from the Pubs Code

Commenting from the FPB, Consultant and Licensee, Dave Mountford said, ‘At the Forum we have been lobbying hard in support of tied pubs who have been suffering from the Pubco’s largely ignoring the MRO obligations on them as set out in the Pub Code.

The High Court decision sets a good precedent for the future and we welcome it. It does however, once again, demonstrate that the powers of the PCA are limited and it’s disappointing to see that the PCA, whilst having the power to state that an MRO offer is unreasonable, does not have the power to state what MRO terms are compliant – a clear contradiction in the intent of the legislation.

We continue to call for the powers of the PCA to be reviewed and strengthened. It also highlights that the tied tenants have to risk the financial fall out of defending the PCA’s position through an appeal, which many in the industry struggle to understand, which, again, certainly seems contrary to the intent of the legislation.

In this instance it would appear that Punch Partnerships were using the appeal process to scare off the tenants and its great tribute to them, that they saw the process through and won their case.’

Notes to Editors

Link to High Court decision details:

About Forum of Private Business

The Forum of Private Business is a not-for-profit comprehensive business support organisation founded in 1977. Our membership is spread throughout the UK and primarily made up of companies that employ between 1-50 employees, helping them to manage employees, saving time, giving advice, support and protection where a business needs it. We are a recognised leading authority on business issues and represent the interests of business owners on many consultative bodies. We have built a solid reputation, being influential in many areas of policy-making, in changing laws that affect small businesses, and we continue to campaign for the fair treatment of businesses within the UK. Everything we do is about making sure our members’ businesses operate profitably. This means that every penny we make goes back in to supporting our members, providing the support and resources that will enable businesses to flourish and grow.

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