Investigation into Utilita and its compliance with its obligations under Standard Licence Condition 14 (SLC 14) of their gas and electricity supply licences

Opened:
Nov 2014
Decision Proposed:
Oct 2015
Closed:
Nov 2015
Regulation Area:
Sectoral Regulations
Breach Area:
Switching

The Authority has confirmed its decision to impose a financial penalty on Utilita Energy Limited (Utilita) following an investigation into its compliance with a number of relevant conditions set out in SLC 14. The provisions of SLC 14 govern when a licensee may block a domestic customer’s request to transfer to another supplier.

• SLC 14.1 sets out a general prohibition stating that licensees must not prevent Proposed Supplier Transfers (PST) except in accordance with the conditions set out in SLC 14.

• SLC 14.4 (c) sets out one of the circumstances in which licensees can legitimately prevent a PST taking place, namely where a customer has not entered into a contract with a proposed new supplier and asks the licensee to prevent the PST from taking place.

• SLC 14.6 provided, at the time of the investigation, that licensees shall ensure that Outstanding Charges of amounts equal to or less than £200 are capable of being assigned to proposed suppliers in accordance with the Debt Assignment Protocol.

• SLC 14.9 requires among other things that when preventing PSTs, licensees send out notices to help customers make informed decisions about who to contact to resolve any issues they might have during the switching process.

• SLC 14.10 provides that, if sub-paragraph 14.4(c) applies and the licensee can legitimately prevent a PST at the customer’s request, the licensee must keep evidence of that request and inform the proposed new supplier that an objection has been raised and the reason given by the customer for making the request.

Utilita has admitted that it breached the SLCs listed above.

We launched our investigation in response to information from a range of sources, including consumer complaints and information provided by the company.

The Authority has confirmed its decision to impose a financial penalty of £1. This is in addition to £450,000 (less £1) that Utilita has agreed to pay to the UK charity StepChange. Utilita will also refund up to £110,000 to customers who lost out financially after being wrongly stopped from switching. Any unclaimed money will go to StepChange.