Voluntary Redress and Energy Consumers Dissemination Event

In September 2018, Dr Maribel Canto-Lopez presented the initial findings of her research into voluntary redress and energy consumers to an audience of scholars, practitioners, and energy market actors. The event included presentations from the energy regulator, charities and local authorities as well as an academic keynote speech.

In the UK the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (ofgem) has implemented a change in enforcement encouraging energy companies to offer voluntary redress to (1) customers affected by their breaches (such as overcharging or incorrect billing) and to (2) charities. The government saw this option as one that would protect the interest of consumers and increase justice in energy markets requiring companies to put things right rather than simply pay a fine. Interestingly, the monetary value of redress after 2015/2016 represents 100% of the volume of penalties imposed. This new enforcement strategy supports companies’ legal obligations, including those of energy efficiency, while using the proceeds to compensate consumers and fund community or charitable projects supporting energy focused initiatives. The money delivers energy advice services and home improvements. This new type of redress saves government and companies resources; makes companies more aware of how their breaches affect society and protects energy consumers.

The main outcome of discussion was the advantage of engaging different actors into the development of this modern type of enforcement and possibly transferring it to other utility sectors, based on the advantages that voluntary redress offers, particularly to those consumers that are not willing or able to claim through the Courts or the Ombudsman.

Dr Maribel Canto-Lopez is a lecturer at Leicester Law School who also undertook her LLM and PhD at Leicester.

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