The OFT has published its final decision on the impact of beer ties within the UK pub industry following a super-complaint launched by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in July 2009.
CAMRA had suggested in the super-complaint that the presence of tied leases and tenancies between UK pubs and brewing or non-brewing pub owning companies resulted in competition concerns within the market due to ‘beer ties’ (which require pub lessees to purchase beer solely through their pub-owning company landlord) and other purchasing obligations arising in connection with such agreements.
CAMRA contested the OFT's initial decision on the super-complaint not to commence a market investigation by bringing an application in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), which CAMRA later agreed to suspend while the OFT opened up its initial decision for consultation. During this consultation, the OFT also commissioned further research and sent out information requests to industry parties.
The OFT's final report confirms the initial decision that there are insufficient grounds to warrant an investigation under either the Competition Act 1998 or the Enterprise Act 2002. The OFT concluded that beer ties do not adversely affect the number of beers available to the end consumer or contribute to artificially high prices, and that there is sufficient competition within the UK pub industry.
104/10 - 14 October 2010