The pubs code: Regulations that protect people when opening a pub

Taking on a pub tenancy or lease with a pub company can be a fantastic business opportunity. With the right site, knowledge and skills, you can develop a really profitable pub business. For people who haven’t run a pub before, or for those that may have been out of the trade for some time, there have been recent changes to legislation that will help you get the right information and go into any agreement knowing exactly where you stand.

It’s called the Pubs Code and in this post we set out to explain how this affects you.

What Is The Pubs Code?

The Pubs Code was introduced in 2016 as part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015.  This is a very important piece of legislation affecting pub owners as it regulates the relationship between large pub-owning businesses like Greene King and their tied pub tenants who buy beer and other drinks from their landlord. Whatever type of agreement you are considering with Greene King, be it a Tenancy, Lease Agreement, or Short Agreement - as well as assigned leases - it will be affected by the conditions set out in the Pubs Code.

It lays down a specific code of practices and procedures that must be followed. Above all, the Pubs Code ensures that all dealings between a pub company and its tied tenants are fair and lawful.

To download a copy of the Pub Code click on the link on this page.

Which Breweries And Pub Companies Are Affected By The Pubs Code?

The Pubs Code focuses on Pub companies which operate 500 or more tied pubs.  At present, there are six pub companies that fall into this category:

  • Greene King 

  • Marston’s Plc.

  • Admiral Taverns Ltd

  • Stonegate Pub Partners (Formerly EI Group)

  • Star Pubs & Bars (Heineken UK)

  • Punch Pubs

How Does The Pubs Code Affect Pub Tenants And Lessees?

Back in 2016, when the Pubs Code was introduced, it marked the biggest change in the relationship between pub owning companies and individual tenants for decades.  It now governs the business relationship between pub companies, tenants and lessees and acts as an independent arbitrator if any issues occur.  

This makes for a really good working relationship between a pub company and individual tenants, as there is now someone who is guaranteed to take an independent view of any issue, and make recommendations to settle problems. Greene King is an active participant in the Pubs Code as it is a valuable resource for all concerned.

How Does The Pubs Code Affect People Entering The Pub Trade For The First Time?

As with any business opportunity, there is a tremendous amount of information needed by any new entrant to the pub trade, which is laid down in the Pubs Code.  Quite apart from basic details relating to the actual premises such as rents, insurance and merchandise; you also have to create a sustainable business plan, be aware of legislative requirements, the licenses needed, how to operate a cellar as well as marketing and finance.  There are compulsory training requirements and Greene King offers suitable courses such as a Level 2 Award for Personal Licence Holders and Pre-Entry Awareness Training.

What Does The Pubs Code Adjudicator Do?

If problems occur, you can seek the help of the Pubs Code Adjudicator (PCA). The PCA’s job is to oversee the regulations and deal with any issues. Fundamentally, the PCA will act as an arbitrator, listening to both points of view – you as the tenant and that of the pub-owning business - and then gives its decision.  If the PCA believes that the requirements of the Pubs Code have been breached, then it will take the appropriate action. The PCA will also state if any redress is necessary.

There are three ways in which you can contact the PCA:

  1. Via the UK GOV website where there is an online enquiry form

  2. By telephone on 0800 528 8080 (Monday-Thursday 9.30 am – 5.00 pm and Friday 9.30 am – 4.00 pm)

  3. Or you can write to the Pubs Code Adjudicator (enquiries). The address is 4th Floor 23 Stephenson Street, Birmingham B2 4BJ

If You’re Thinking Of Taking On A Pub, What Do You Need To Do Next?

Legal documentation like the Pubs Code may sound confusing but actually it sets out clearly what the responsibilities of each party are and what steps must be taken when entering into an agreement. One of the key parts of the Pubs Code is that tenants and lessees must take independent professional advice, which will help you understand the detail and what to expect.

There’s also plenty of advice available online that will help you navigate the Pubs Code, and of course our Pub Partners team is happy to answer any questions you may have.

A great starting point is our Running A Pub Information Guide that you can view or download here.

However if you have a question that you can’t find an answer for, just pick up the phone and call 01284 843200