Fox in the henhouse?

On the 10th March 2016, Ms Anna Soubry, Minister of State for Small Business, Industry and Enterprise announced the appointment of Mr Paul Newby as the Pubs Code Adjudicator (1).


The Government have claimed that Mr Newby is independent, however Mr Newby is reliant on the very companies that he is now supposed to adjudicate over for livelihood and subsistence, which clearly shows the lack of independence. Mr Newby is currently a Director and shareholder of a company which has amongst its clients the very companies which Mr Newby is expected to adjudicate over, the large pub companies. Mr Newby has, by his own admission, been engaged by numerous managed and tenanted pub companies on rent review matters over the last twenty years, and in the last five years in particular has acted for Enterprise Inns, Marstons and Punch Taverns (2). Mr Newby has also represented tenants, however there is very little transparency on the ratios, it is important for tenants to be given actual facts and figures in order for them to make an informed decision. It is for the people using the service, the tenants, to decide on its impartiality and fairness and also that of the Adjudicator.


We were disappointed, but not in the least surprised, that the Minister chose to castigate Members of the House for raising the valid concerns of tenants, that’s all the Members did, raised the concerns of tenants, we believe that the Minister would do well to listen. The Minister then proceeded to chastise Members for voicing concerns on a man that they did not know, later she admitted that she did not know the man either and had only met him once. It would appear that the Minister expects valid concerns of tenants to be dismissed as ‘disgraceful slurs’ and her opinion of a man she has met once as fact (3).


Any Adjudicator of the Pubs Code, should and must adhere by the principle of ‘no worse off’ (4), anything less will not be acceptable to tenants. We believe that previous actions by the Adjudicator, which may not have supported the principle, will not be helpful to the role of Adjudicator.


It must be remembered that, in the words of Lord Hewart CJ “it is not merely of some importance but is of fundamental importance that justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done” (R v Sussex justices, ex parte McCarthy 1924) (5).


We have always made it perfectly clear that in order for any Adjudicator to be acceptable to tenants that they must be truly independent, unfortunately Mr Newby is not being seen as independent or impartial by the very people who must use the service, the tenants. We have never supported the use of a Chartered Surveyor as an Adjudicator for the simple reason that the possibility of the perception of bias is apparent, if the Adjudicator relies on those that he adjudicates over, for financial advantage, then there will always be, quite rightly, questions raised over the possibility of bias. To castigate and chastise those views is disgraceful and it remains our humble opinion that this trade deserves better, much better.




Notes for Editors:



3. Pubs Code Adjudicator – 10.36am

4. Pubs and Pubs Code Adjudicator – delivering no worse off.



Friday 8th April 2016

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