The Tied Pubs (Scotland) Act 2021 – where are we now, how did we get here, and does everyone agree it is a good thing?

The Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill

The Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill became an Act on 5th May 2021.  But how did we get here and how is it different to other law in Scotland?  There are huge differences and over the course of 4 articles we will look at how the Bill became law, why it is not yet in force, what it puts in place for Tied Pubs tenants and we will get views from both sides of the fence – for and against the Bill.

The Tied Pubs Bill was slightly different to other new Government legislation as this was a Members Bill.  A Member’s Bill is legislation introduced by an individual MSP.  Members’ Bills are different from law introduced by the government direct.

The member in charge of this Bill was Neil Bibby MSP.  He had to put together his proposals and draft the Bill then send the relevant documents to Parliament.  Before introducing a Member’s Bill, Neil Bibby had to lodge his draft proposal and then a final proposal. The draft proposal had to have a consultation document, which is subject to scrutiny by a committee.

Neil Bibby introduced the Bill on 3rd February 2020.  Then came Stage 1 on 26th November 2020 where Committees examine the Bill. Then MSPs vote on whether it should continue to Stage 2.  The Bill did continue to stage 2 which was 2nd March 2021.  At this stage, MSPs can propose changes to the Bill. The changes are considered and then voted on by the committee.  At stage 3, which was 23rd March 2021, just at the start of lockdown,  MSPs can propose further Amendments to the Bill and then vote on each of these. Finally, they vote on whether the Bill should become an Act.  The Tied Pubs (Scotland) Bill passed by a vote of 111 for, 0 against and 0 abstentions. The Bill became law on 5 May 2021.

The Tied Pubs Bill came about in part because the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 was passed by the UK Parliament. That Act brought into place a statutory Pubs Code for tied pub tenants in England and Wales. The code in England and Wales is governed by a Pubs Code Adjudicator (PCA). That Act applies to those who have tenancies with pub-owning businesses that own 500 or more tied pubs.

The Bill sought to bring the same support to Scottish tied pub tenants and give the same or similar opportunities as those covered by the 2015 Act in England and Wales. The Tied Pubs (Scotland) Act 2021 aims to take the English and Wales models and make it fit for Scottish Tied Pub tenants but try to avoid problems experienced in Act in England and Wales

The fact this Bill went through during lockdown and all of the challenges it faced was real testament to the Commitment of the team behind the Bill and the support of the licensed trade and various trade bodies.  It is a huge achievement but there are dissenting voices to the overall enthusiasm and we will look in the next stage at some of the issues and comments from both sides.

If you have any questions or queries on the Tied Pubs (Scotland) Act please contact me on 0141 370 8116 or

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