Following the introduction of The Pubs Code in July, which was designed to free pub tenants from their traditional ties with large pub operators, more than 80 tenants have gone to arbitration following disputes between the two parties.

Dave Mountford, who was one of the founder members of the Pubs Advisory Service, which campaigned to bring the Pubs Code into statute, believes tenants are not getting a fair hearing, even with arbitration.

He has, therefore, joined forces with specialist dispute management lawyer Rob Cooke, who is a director at Lupton Fawcett, to endeavour to bring the unequal bargaining position between the PubCo and tenant to an end.

Dave, who set up his own consultancy, Pub Defender, has successfully brokered agreements over the years but believes that despite the good intentions of the Pubs Code to help break the tie, it has had very little impact.

Commenting on the current situation, Dave said,

The Pubs Code was obviously designed to stop the continual exploitation of tenants but unfortunately the adjudicator, Paul Newby, has not yet, managed to interpret the code and deal effectively with the number of arbitration referrals made. If anything we have seen an increase in the sort of cases that resulted in the necessity for legislation in the first place.”

Many have said that this is because he has a conflict of interest following his time working with PubCos when he was at leisure property agents Fleurets.

With the Pubs Code adjudicator appearing to be doing as little as possible to implement the new law, someone needs to be on the side of the tenant to ensure there is a fair deal.


Speaking about the new team, Rob Cooke, said,

In principle, paying lower rents in return for the tenant having to purchase drinks and other products and services exclusively through the PubCo, seems reasonable. However what can make it unfair is the fact they usually have to pay a premium on these purchases which can make them uncompetitive.”

The new law was introduced to give the tenant the opportunity to decide for themselves whether they want to retain the tie or pay an independently assessed market rent and buy the drinks elsewhere, without being blocked by the PubCo.”

We will certainly be putting our combined experience within the leisure and pubs industry to good use by getting a fair hearing for the tenant to enable them to exercise the right to make their own decisions about what is best for their business.

Dave Mountford can be contacted on

Rob Cooke can be contacted on or 0114 2283261

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