New bill introduced to protect Scottish pubs in tied agreements

The Tied Pubs Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament yesterday and hopes to protect tied pubs from inflated drinks prices and increase the variety of beer available.

18 months after England and Wales adopted the Pub Code to protect pubs in tied agreements, Scotland looks set to follow suit.

A new bill from Labour MSP Neil Bibby was introduced to the Scottish parliament yesterday, which will ensure pub tenants in tied agreements are dealt with transparently and fairly. It will also set up a Scottish Adjudicator to arbitrate disputes between landlords and tenants and offer advice.

Tied agreements offer pub tenants reduced rents in exchange for an obligation to purchase alcohol from a particular company or brewer, often at inflated prices. There are nearly 1,000 pubs in Scotland under such an agreement.

In England and Wales, the Pub Code allowed tenants greater transparency over the tied deals available to them and in some cases gave them the option of negotiating a market rent only deal, leaving them free to buy their own alcohol.

Paul Waterson, Chief Executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said: “Our tied pub colleagues in England have statutory protection, so we need a Scottish pub code and a Scottish arbitration service to make sure [Scottish tied pubs] are afforded the same benefits as their colleagues down South.”

The Scottish bill will also include a guest beer option to give drinkers more choice and support Scottish microbreweries. Ray Turpie, Scotland and Northern Ireland director of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “We want to give an outlet for a good Scottish product that is produced by our many new microbreweries now”.

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