Heineken’s pub chain is to be investigated over claims it imposed unfair terms on licensees who tried to sever the tie – the arrangement which requires them to buy beer from the owner of their leased premises.

The Pubs Code adjudicator (PCA) has launched an immediate investigation into the behaviour of the Heineken-owned Star Pubs & Bars.

PCA Paul Newby said: “I have decided to launch this investigation to understand the extent to which the code may have been breached and the potential impact on Star tenants.”

He said he had reasonable grounds to suspect Star has failed to comply with the code by using unreasonable stocking terms in proposed free-of-tie market-rent-only (MRO) tenancies.

CAMRA has welcomed the stance.

National chairman Nik Antona said: “CAMRA welcomes the newsthat the PCA is finally using hispower to launch an investigation – something we have called for in our continuing campaign to get the Pubs Code working as intended.

“An investigation and ruling from the PCA will help provide clarity on market-rent-only terms from one pub company, but we need wider investigations on whether all pubcos are abiding by the spirit of the code. We want to see greater enforcement powers for the PCA to deter pub companies from unfair and unlawfulbehaviour in the first place.

“It is clear the code is not working.CAMRA is leading the fight to getmeaningful changes introduced by talking directly to licensees, when the PCA has admitted he can’t. We are surveying tied tenants and we expect the results will illustrate ongoing issues with the code and provide a compelling case for reform.”

The deadline for evidence submis- sion is 5pm on 7 August. Evidence should be sent to investigations@ pubscodeadjudicator.gov.uk

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