Business Interruption Insurance Update April

It has now been  3 months since the Supreme Court handed down its judgment. A recent publication by the FCA on data collected by it from insurers affected by the Test Case, on 13 April 2021, shows that only 38% of policyholders who had claims accepted have received at least an interim payment.

A table published by the FCA (You can download a copy here > FCA DATA) shows that 1 in 3 claims made is still yet to be accepted by the relevant insurer, although this varies greatly amongst individual insurers.

The picture that is emerging is that even for straightforward claims, insurers still appear to be delaying either accepting liability or making payment.

That pattern is even clearer for claims that are not straightforward, especially those where the policyholder has to prove the presence of COVID-19 on their premises.

Cerulean is now in the process of putting together claims against the insurers listed below, and if you have encountered difficulties with them or would like to join these actions, please click HERE.

 

List of Policies: 

Accelerant

Aqueous/ QIC, QIC Europe/HIUA/Aston Lark

Brit

DOA/ China Taiping

HIUA Public House

New India

Axis/CMU

Eaton Gate

 

This is a guest blog written by Cerulean Law.

 

My employee has got another job during furlough and is not coming back. What should I do?

The financial impact of COVID-19 on businesses and employees has been clear for more than a year.

Many employers already had contracts of employment for their employees when they subsequently furloughed them as a result of the financial impact of coronavirus on their businesses. However, others did not.

Employers were then generally told by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) that they needed to have written furlough leave agreements in place and scrambled to put these in place. However, for those employers that did not have contracts of employment in place for their employees, gaps have arisen in the ability to bring their employees back to work during the easing of the lockdown.

Now that some industries are returning from the lockdown, they are finding that many of their employees have gone and found other work whilst also being on furlough, but have not requested permission from their furlough employers to do so. Many employees have also indicated that they are not willing to return to the existing jobs for which they have been furloughed, which has not only left those employers in the lurch, but has also meant that they have been making National Insurance contributions and pension contributions, as well as possibly topping up an employee’s pay, when that all might have been avoided.

So what can an employer do in these circumstances?

Many might hope that the employees might simply resign, but this is largely wishful thinking. After all, if you were being lawfully paid to do a job and be furloughed, would you resign? Therefore, trying to force an employee to resign could be a high risk move, particularly where that employee has two or more years’ service.

The next route might be to consider making those employees redundant, but redundancy focuses on the role rather than on the individual fulfilling that role. Therefore, if the employer makes an employee redundant because the employee will not return to that role, then the employer could be laying itself open to claims of unfair dismissal and perhaps even discrimination, depending on the circumstances.

Ordinarily, the aim would be to look at the contract of employment itself to see if it requires an employee to request permission before obtaining additional employment. However, in the absence of such a contract of employment, the alternative might be to attempt to enter into a new furlough leave agreement specifying that the employee must obtain permission before seeking additional employment from the point where they were furloughed, which might force the issue.

From there, the situation could go a number of different ways, so it is important that the process of taking employees off of furlough leave and managing any correspondence with them to determine what the next steps are is handled robustly. Employers should seek advice on how to handle this.

Employers also need to be mindful that there could be risks of HM Revenue & Customs reviewing the furlough situation to determine whether it is fraudulent or not (even if the employer claimed the furlough grant with the best of intentions) so, as part of this process, the employer should also gather as much information as it can from the employee to ensure that it has the best opportunity to defend itself should it need to.

It is also important to understand that, whilst it might not be possible to recover the sums that have already been paid, it might be possible to prevent making further payments to an employee who has no intention of returning to their post.

This article is intended for information purposes only and not as a substitute for legal advice. TP Legal does not accept any responsibility for any decisions that you may make as a result of reading this article.

This is a guest blog written by TP Legal Solicitors.

If you would like legal advice from TP Legal Solicitors, then please get in contact and click HERE.

Pub Customer App Service

A well needed helping hand for pubs.

The BarCode & Switch4Profit have formed an exciting new partnership to help pubs both grow sales and reduce costs post lockdown.

Despite both companies being relatively young, their founders have years of experience in the hospitality sector across both the operations and marketing functions. Their aims are aligned – to help pubs and restaurants grow their business whilst reducing costs, improving operations and ultimately increasing profit. After all – that’s what we all want right!?

The BarCode’s app has been specifically designed to promote venues to a new and wider audience.

 

  • Your future customers download the app to find venues near them
  • They can order and pay at the table
  • They can even make bookings, split the bill and click & collect

Not only will the app grow your customer base, but there are both EPOS integrated or web-based options. The best part is that there are no setup costs, monthly charges, service fees or commissions.

Co-Founder Ben Milnes states “We are first and foremost footfall drivers and by bringing together fantastic independent venues under one banner, we are creating a marketplace to rival any large group. We give our venues fantastic tools to increase visibility, drive footfall and keep the independent scene thriving. There is also an option to use our app as your ‘Order & Pay at Table’ solution”. Their popularity speaks for itself with almost 100 outlets using the app since their launch in 2019.

Where the proposition gets even better is that Switch4Profit will also offer a free review of your existing EPOS, credit card terminal and order/pay at table providers.  S4P was formed by Paul Marsh and to date has over 200 clients (including multiples) operating over 400 outlets, the majority of which are in hospitality, and has introduced savings for them in excess of £1.25m per annum on merchant services alone.

Switch4Profit will:

  • Buy you out of your current merchant services contracts
  • Introduce significant savings
  • Provide the latest technology in the sector
  • Integrate with The BarCode app and most EPOS systems (if required)
  • All on a monthly rolling agreement with no long term contract

With average savings of up to 42% for merchant services this means that the partnership with The BarCode will you not only increase your footfall but reduce your overheads.

On working with The BarCode Paul says “The suppliers we work with are the leaders and disruptors in their field. Those that provide a combination of the best service and price. They value what we do and they are part of our team. We have sourced the very best, vetted them and feel confident that all the fat has been stripped out”.

Paul Pavli Consultancy who brought the two companies together simply states that “The partnership makes sense and if an operator can see the benefit of this free review and service then the savings the partnership can introduce more than funds the cost of any promotional discounts that they be willing to advertise through the app.”

Get in touch for a free assessment of how The BarCode app and services can help drive new customers to your pub, and how Switch4Profit can drive down your EPOS, credit card terminal and order/pay at table costs whilst improving your customer service and day to day operations.

Click HERE to get in contact today.

 

 

Staff working in a pub

MRO must be with a Deed of Variation – Arbitration award

Another groundbreaking MRO victory for tied tenants represented by the Pubs Advisory Service.

The Pubs Code Adjudicator arbitration ruled that EI Group (Stonegate) MUST issue a Deed of Variation to a tied tenant who was trying to go free of tie and, that the pub companies new lease was in breach of the pub’s code as it made the tenant worse off.

The case was another nail in the coffin of Pub Companies consistently proposing new agreements to sever the beer tie at MRO. PAS who represented the tenant made the firm and lawful argument that this matter could be done easier and cheaper using a common and widely used method of a deed of variation (DOV).

 

The Arbitrator ruled in favour of PAS/Tied Tenant:

.…..A standard template lease to be applied by the POB is potentially a burdensome position for the tenant with limited
strength and negotiating support and consequently could result in unfairness to the tenant…….

……I find for the Claimant that the MRO-compliant tenancy is
most fairly and appropriately achieved by a DOV and not by a NL (New Lease) and
satisfied that the DOV will comply with the provisions of sections 43(4)(iii)
and 43(5)(b) of the SBE&E Act15.”

 

Download the award here DOV_MRO_Award

If you need an award-winning pubs expert helping your business then please contact us HERE

Hop House 13 – A Bitter End?

Hop House 13 – A bitter end?

Or a great opportunity to put something new and interesting on the Bar?

Here’s our thoughts as a starter for 10.

Camden Pale

Shed Head

Camden Hells

Hackney Hopster

Brooklyn

Ranging from £67 – £75 for a 30lt and all achieving better RSP’s than the outgoing brand.

If you would like to know more, then please click HERE.

Distasteful MRO case

The PCA recently published an MRO arbitration case in which the PubCompany Star Pubs and Bars (Heineken) were represented by DLA Piper.

The tenant was being represented by Pubs Advisory Service.

The tenant had sadly passed away sometime earlier and this event was now being gamed by the pub company to try and overturn the previous MRO award (which had gone in favour of the tenant).

In an unprecedented dressing down the arbitrator said, in its award to the parties, that the argument put forward (from Star Pubs / DLA Piper) was distasteful – see point 45.

You can download a copy here > Pubs_Code_Statutory_Arbitration_Award_Distasteful

If you want help with MRO or pubs code disputes contact PAS HERE

Third Party Surveyors can be BDM’s

Recently published PCA arbitration (in which PAS represented the tied tenant) highlights an interesting case of a valuer from a firm of Chartered Surveyors who despite being contracted in by a pub company was actually found to be acting as a Business Development Manager (BDM) under the pub’s code regulations.

The actions undertaken by the third party amounted to regulated activities and were arbitrable by a tied pub tenant, the Pub Company Star Pubs (Heineken) had tried to argue that third parties they use for rent review were not regulated persons or regulated activities capable of arbitration but the Arbitrator ruled otherwise.

This sends a clear message to outside Pubco valuers and surveyors that they can be acting under the code and the pub company held to account by the PCA later on, the cost of losing arbitrations can cost pub companies tens of thousands of pounds.

Shockingly the PCA has taken 1 1/2 years to publish the outcome of this case – no clear reason has been supplied as to why there was such a long delay in publishing this useful information.

Download your copy of the Arbitration HERE.

Victory in Scottish Tied Pubs Bill

This evening saw another historic moment for leased and tenanted pubs.

The tied pub’s bill (Scotland) passed the house with overwhelming cross-party support, this is the second time PAS has backed statutory reform of the tenanted pub sector, and is delighted to see our arguments vindicated and victorious for the 2nd time in a UK Parliament.

The Scottish Government will now rise for an Election, when it returns in the early summer it will begin working with PAS and other stakeholders on the delivery of the code.

If you are a Scottish tenant and would like to help or find out more get in touch with us HERE

You can learn more about the Scottish Pubs Code and watch the stage 3 debate where the bill passed into law HERE

 

Switch4Profit March Blog

Sweet Spot

With the end of lockdown in sight for hospitality, now is the ideal time to get ready for reopening on 12th April. Most credit card terminal providers require 30 days notice to cancel your contract, so we are now in the sweet spot to review your card terminal costs and switch providers; and what’s more – we do everything for you!

 

Simple question: Are you getting the best deal for you and your business? A quick financial health check could save you hundreds or in most cases even thousands of pounds a year. However, for most business owners, just the thought of the time and effort needed to research the market, wade through the jargon, negotiate a good deal and then physically switch over card terminals is daunting at best. As a result, most don’t bother and inevitably end up paying more than they should.

 

That’s why Switch4Profit was born. Out of a desire to help small businesses save money and take away the pain traditionally associated with switching merchant services provider.

 

All we need is a statement. Get in touch today by clicking HERE.

 

It’s then our job to find you the best deal, produce a quote, order and install your new terminals, provide training and cancel your existing contract. We even organise for your cancellation costs to be paid to you before you have to pay your old supplier. The result being that you save money and have brand new card terminals with minimal time and effort.

 

The majority of our customers are now opting for the brand new dojo terminal on a monthly rolling contract with no exit fees. It’s easy to use with quick and effortless PCI compliance, has superb WIFI and GPRS connectivity and a free app to access your account and track your activity. If for any reason you’re not happy, you can simply give your 30 days notice with no penalty charges.

 

If you want some good advice from a small team who care about you and your business then please get in touch. We are happy to answer any questions you have on card terminals, merchant services contracts, EPOS systems, pay at table solutions and even your utility costs.

Small Brewer Relief reform update

The outline HMRC reform of small brewers relief (SBR) discussed at SIBA’s Beer X online conference.

Reform proposals could see a 5000 hectolitre (hl) brewer pay an extra £44k duty per year a 15,000hl brewer will pay £40k less!

In other scenarios under consideration by Government, microbrewers would pay £20k extra, and bigger more regional brewers with 10,000hl operations will pay £58k less.

This will potentially force the merger of many 5000hl brewers to get the scale that comes at 10,000hl and reduce the numbers of independently owned operations.

Also proposed – if the chancellor is silent about duty in the budget it automatically rises by RPI but it may change to CPI & the SBR rate may change each year too.

Micro and Independent brewers are clearly going to be unable to plan under such scenarios and face a stark choice to merge or reduce their operations.

 

Watch the SIBA Beer X conference where the awful future for British Microbreweries under SBR reform is laid bare CLICK HERE

 

If this bothers you we suggest you write to your MP, the Treasury and the competition regulator HERE to outline your concerns about the anti-competitive nature of the reforms and ask for a competition inquiry into the wholesale beer market – the last one was in 1989!

#ukpubs