James Dickson, executive chairman of beer flow monitoring and data management company Vianet, has told M&C Report the firm would have “no choice” but to take legal action if the Government pushes through with measures to restrict use of its systems.

However, Dickson said he thinks it’s “highly unlikely” that the proposals would be enacted in their current form. The plans, which are contained in the consultation on establishing a statutory adjudicator in the pubco/tenant relationship, include measures to control the application of beer flow monitoring for managing compliance with the beer tie.

Dickson said: “For us it’s a serious issue. Whilst we think it’s highly unlikely this will go through as it is we’ve got to assume the worst and prepare for it. We are optimistic that when the Government gets to see the facts they will come up with a sensible solution that will work for everyone.”

Asked if Vianet is prepared to take legal action, he said: “Absolutely. We’ve got an obligation to do that with shareholders and stakeholders.

“We hope for a sensible solution and outcome. If we just get a continuation of the past we will be left with no option.”

On Tuesday Vianet reported a 7% fall in revenue in its leisure arm in the year to 31 March, largely due to “exiting lower margin compliance cellar inspection activity” in the period.

Vianet installed 864 new beer monitoring systems in the year, of which 828 were iDraught. The rate of installations this year in the UK will be “not dissimilar”, Dickson said. He predicted between 8,000 and 9,000 more installations in this country, plus another 400 to 500 in the US, where Vianet has formed an strategic alliance with Micro Matic USA for a nationwide iDraught rollout.

Vianet has cited pub closures for a continued decline in the number of installations, and the net decline in the full-year was about 800, from c18,400 to c17,600.

In the past year Vianet signed “several major contract extensions”, including those with major pub companies such as Punch, Enterprise and Marston’s. Dickson said: “There’s only one of the six [national tenanted pub companies] that’s going to be done this year. The last year or so has been the tidal wave.”

Dickson also expects to have “broadly the same” number of installations of its Nucleus Smart Tills in this current year as in FY2012/2013, when almost 500 were fitted. “We are being very selective about how we approach that and recognise that it’s not for everyone.”

He said the increased use of agreements such as Enterprise Inns’ Project Beacon managed tenancy and franchise-style agreements is “good news” for Vianet because it encourages take-up of systems such as Smart Tills and iDraught.