Tuesday, 11 September 2012

What can BPC charge? The law has intervened.

Many of us will have had the experience of moving to a new house or office only for BPC to tell us that the previous owner or tenant owes them money. As a result they refuse to connect you until the outstanding debt has been settled.

We all knew instinctively that this was wrong morally, it now seems that it's wrong legally as well.

In a ruling in April this year, our Court of Appeal said, specifically about BPC (in Civil Appeal No. CACLB-129-11 Section 41) that:
"successive owners are not responsible for payment of the bills of earlier owners, nor for the bills of their tenant consumers, and nor are owners or subsequent tenants responsible for the unpaid bills of earlier tenants, as is a common misconception."
They continued (in Section 51) to say that:
"there is no right of action enabling the Corporation to claim payment of somebody else's debt from a new owner. Where the premises change hands, the Corporation remains with its right of action against the consumer who incurred the debt."
Finally, they gave BPC some tips on how to run a business (again in Section 51), suggesting that BPC:
"can minimize its risk by timeous meter reading, prompt billing, and expeditious cancellation or disconnection for non-payment when it is still covered by its two months deposit."
Ironic, isn't it, that the Court of Appeal seems to know more about how to run an electricity supply organisation than BPC does.

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