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Pub campaigners welcome legal voice

Added: Wednesday, October 25th 2017

Fiona Dickie

The British Pub Confederation, the body representing pubs and publicans, has welcomed the appointment of barrister Fiona Dickie as Deputy Pubs Code Adjudicator and has called on her to step in to stop the thwarting and undermining of the Pubs Code.

Fiona Dickie was called to the Bar in 1993. She has been a Vice President of the Valuation Tribunal for England since July 2009, and was appointed Judge of First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) in 2013 and is accredited as a Civil Mediator by the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Group in 2005. She was also appointed as a Road User Charging Adjudicator (RUCA) in 2004, and appointed as an Examiner of the Court in 2004.

The British Pub Confederation has called for the Pubs Code Adjudicator to be someone from a legal background, ideally a retired judge, so welcomes Fiona Dickie’s background. 

Ms Dickie has said she looks forward to using her legal background “to ensuring compliance with the Code”. The British Pub Confederation opposed the appointment of the Pubs Code Adjudicator, Paul Newby, who previously worked for Fleurets, the specialist estate agents who work for the large regulated pub companies. The British Pub Confederation published a report detailing Mr Newby's shortcomings,including thwarting the Pubs Code, which the responsible Minister, Margot James MP, admitted is happening in a House of Commons debate.

 Commenting, Greg Mulholland, Chair of the British Pub Confederation, said:

“The appointment of a barrister as the new Deputy Pubs Adjudicator is welcome and we wish Fiona Dickie well in this role and hope that -- as she has said she will do -- she now steps in and deals with the clear flouting of the Pubs Code and the denial of the simple right to the Market Rent Only option for tenants.  

“The British Pub Confederation always believed that, as well as having a non-conflicted Adjudicator, the role should be held by someone from outside the pub sector with a legal background. As someone who is legally trained she will not be able to ignore what is going on nor pretend that the role of the Pubs Code Adjudicator is merely to privately arbitrate, when the law and Code are clear that the Adjudicator is there to adjudicate, something that Mr Newby continues to fail to do. We hope Ms Dickie will show that the pubcos cannot get away with flouting the pubs code and that she will seek to uphold the law. 

"It is time now for the law to be upheld and we hope that Fiona Dickie will ensure this happens so that tied tenants are no longer denied their legal right to the Market Rent Only option and we look forward to working with her to finally ensure that the Pubs Code is implemented and the law is upheld”.

Chris Lindesay, Steering Group Member of the British Pub Confederation and Coordinator of the Punch Tenant Network, commented:

“Punch tenants, who are already wrestling with the implications of the recent takeover of Punch by a Private Equity Fund backed by Heineken UK, cautiously welcome the appointment of Fiona Dickie as Deputy Pubs Code Adjudicator. Ms Dickie, appears to bring the judicial skills, training and experience that has always been necessary for this role and, crucially, she appears to lack the baggage that Paul Newby has brought to his office. Within seconds of the announcement of Mr Newby’s appointment it was obvious that the decision was totally wrong and the little that has happened in the months he has been in office has underlined how ill-judged was his appointment.

“While still cautious, we are hopeful that the appointment of Ms Dickie will result in a dramatic improvement in the work rate and quality of the guidance coming from the office of the Pubs Code Adjudicator; so that tied tenants might begin to be able to access their rights that Parliament has confirmed must mean they are 'No worse off than free of tie'.  Punch tenants are already finding promises made by Heineken to ward off competition concerns are being routinely ignored and in the absence of any useable guidance from the Office of the Pubs Code Adjudicator are now finding themselves significantly worse off than they were when tied to a different business model.”

 The six pub-owning companies regulated by the Code are: Punch Taverns, Martson's, Greene King, Ei (formerly Enterprise Inns, Heineken (Star Bars and Pubs) and Admiral Taverns.

 The organisations supporting the British Pub Confederation are:

Forum of Private Business                                                     

Licensees Supporting Licensees

Guild of Master Victuallers

GMB

Scottish Licensed Trade Association

Fair Pint Campaign

Pubs Advisory Service

Justice for Licensees

Punch Tenant Network

Unite the Union

Protect Pubs

Society for the Preservation of Beers from the Wood

For more information, contact the British Pub Confederation info@britishpubconfederation.co.uk