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Hartlepool businessman celebrates court victory over energy giant
A BUSINESSMAN has spoken of the frustration of having to take on an energy giant in court in a dispute over an electricity bill.
Leo Gillen, a partner the Dunston Partnership which runs The Golden Lion, in Hartlepool, spent nearly four years trying to resolve the problem after receiving a bill for £34,000 nine months after changing energy supplier.
And today (Friday 11), npower’s claim for £38,381.15 for undercharged electricity used by the pub was thrown out by a judge at Birmingham County Court.
The pub's family run owners had argued that since the readings had been taken by a third party company it was npower's mistake and they didn't owe the money.
It emerged during the case that the energy giant had known about its mistake from November 2006.
But despite this they continued to charge for a figure based on the wrong readings for over a year.
The dispute centred around a meter, installed by npower, which had six digits.
When contractors hired by npower had read the meter they had recorded the data wrong, giving only five digits.
This meant a different calculation had been carried out by npower, and they charged just £5,100 for the electricity.
No extra charge was sent to the pub until January 2009 - over nine months after they had switched suppliers to rival Eon.
Jamie McCracken, representing npower, told the court that this was a "mistake" and should not mean that the company was not owed for the electricity it had provided.
Sam O'Leary, representing Dunston Partnership, (DP) which owns the pub, said that clauses in npower's own contract meant it could not "back charge" several months later.
His Honour Judge Robert Owen QC rejected the idea what the contract did not allow npower to recover the costs, but threw the case out on the basis of a legal principle called a stopall.
Mr O'Leary had argued that as the pub had relied on the amount in the bill to run their business, they would have completely changed their actions had the bill been higher.
The judge decided this met the criteria for dismissal and threw out the claim.
Speaking after the case, Mr Gillen said: “I’m absolutely delighted to win and get the costs of our case covered. This was a frivolous case and should never have gone ahead. If we had lost the case today it would have cost our business £85,000.
“This was a clear cut case of them bullying us and making contract mistakes and even billing us two years after they knew there had been a mistake over the amount of money we had been paying.”
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