The Government has defended the decision to appoint Rodger Vickers, who has acted for tenanted pub company Punch Taverns in rent disputes, as chairman of the new panel that will review disputes between pubcos and tenants, The decision to appoint Vickers to chair the Pub Independent Conciliation Advisory Service (PICAS) has caused some controversy, with pubco critics pointing out that he is acting for Punch in their cases against two tenants Dave Mountford and George Scott. Greg Mulholland MP told Parliament today that the appointment was a “complete farce” and asked business minister Ed Davey to come up with a solution that will stop pubcos taking “more than is reasonable” from pubs. PICAS, which is expected to be up and running at the end of February, is part of the self-regulation deal between the British Beer & Pub Association and the Government in the wake of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee’s critical report into pubcos. In a statement, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills said the appointment of the chair was approved unanimously by the board of the Pub Independent Rent Review Scheme, the industry-led body, and two out of five board members are members of the Independent Pub Confederation, which is largely seen as being critical of pubcos. “The PIRRS board would not have appointed the chair if they did not have complete confidence in their ability to act properly and impartially,” the Government department said. “The PIRRS board will also be appointing a vice-chair. Minister Edward Davey has written to the board, emphasising the importance of this individual having a strong standing and reputation amongst licensee groups, in order to ensure the chair and vice-chair are seen to represent all sides of the industry – both the pubcos and the licensees.”

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