Summary of case
This request for determination was regarding the eligibility of premises in respect of the business retail market and whether such premises can be served by a water supply licensee and a sewerage licensee.
Once the case was opened we entered into discussions with the parties’ in an attempt to resolve the issue.
Summary of Ofwat’s final decision
As a result of the discussions held between Ofwat and the parties’, Affinity Water and Thames Water agreed with the view of the Complainant that the premises is a household premises and, thus, not eligible for the business retail market.
Wider lessons for companies and customers
In accordance with section 17E of the Water Industry Act 1991 (the Act), a water supply licensee, sewerage licensee or a potential customer of each may ask Ofwat to determine whether a proposed supply of water to, or proposed sewerage services for, the customer would be in accordance with what is authorised by the licensee’s licence.
When receiving a request for determination regarding eligibility, in the first instance, we expect the parties’ to have tried to resolve the issue prior to it being referred us. As part of this, we expect the company(s) and/or licensee(s) to gather all necessary information to enable them to make an informed decision. This includes gathering sufficient information from the Complainant to determine the eligibility of a premises such as its ownership, any arrangements between a resident and a business in terms of water use and payment for it, any difference in size between the residential area and the commercial area at the premises and the location of the water meter (where applicable).
In this instance, we did not consider Affinity Water and Thames Water gathered sufficient information from the Complainant to enable them to make an informed decision. Instead, this information was gathered as part of our investigation. Once this information was obtained the eligibility of the premises could be accurately determined.
Taking the above into account, it is important that company(s) and/or licensee(s) gather sufficient information to determine the eligibility of a premises. Doing so may prevent the need for referral to Ofwat and provide a swifter outcome for the Complainant.
Section 17E of the Water Industry Act 1991
Relevant Ofwat guidance
Eligibility guidance on whether non-household customers in England and Wales are eligible to switch their retailer
Supplementary guidance on whether non-household customers in England and Wales are eligible to switch their retailer
16 April 2018
10 September 2018
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