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Energy and water

Disputes between private individuals and energy companies are the odd ones out within the law of obligations. Although it mainly concerns situations including an agreement (as in the general law of obligations), in the Netherlands, we have to deal with the specific energy legislation (Electricity Law 1998, Gas Act, as well as the Heat Act with its subsequent secondary legislation).

The Authority for Consumers and Market (ACM) oversees the fulfilment of these specific regulations. If need be, the ACM will uphold these regulations. For disputes with the energy network operator on breaches of these specific (public) regulations, the ACM conducts a separate procedure. Depending on the dispute, we can choose to either bring the dispute before the judge or the ACM.

Usually, there is a third option available as well: to bring the dispute before the Dispute Committee Energy and Water. The choice depends on many circumstances, such as the company’s usual way of handling cases and its derived estimate of success; the pace at which cases are handled; the possibility of an urgent procedure; (the absence of) the risk of legal costs; or the costs of the procedure. In all cases, it is advisable to get information from an expert attorney first, before you make a decision (in case you are planning to go to court without a lawyer).

Please feel free to contact Erwin Dingeouts about this.

In the imminent event of the disconnection of energy or water supply, it is important to call in legal assistance immediately. The sooner legal assistance is called in, the greater the chance that cutting-off can be avoided. In situations where there is a default judgement (and you did not appear in court), a short term of four weeks will commence in which you have to start default proceedings if you do not agree with that decision. After that period, you cannot ask the judge to review objections against the judgement in principle. It is, therefore important to contact an attorney here as soon as possible.