Energy remedy implementation policy

Guidance last updated July 2019

Background

The Energy Ombudsman’s principal task is to resolve complaints that consumers have about their energy company. If the Energy Ombudsman finds that a consumer has been disadvantaged as a result of a mistake or omission by an energy company, we can make an award on the basis of putting the consumer back to a position as if nothing had gone wrong in the first place.

If a consumer accepts our decision it becomes binding on the company and, as a service to the consumer, we ensure that the company carries out the necessary remedy within 28 calendar days (inclusive of bank holidays) or as soon after that date as possible.

The Energy Ombudsman requires all energy companies to implement remedies in full within 28 days. Failure to do so is detrimental to the complainant and undermines the value of an ombudsman service.

However, the Energy Ombudsman recognises that not all failures to implement remedies are due to unnecessary delays or willful refusal but are due to issues presenting specific individual challenges preventing the company from doing what is required of them.

This policy recognises all of these scenarios.

When is a decision binding?

If the decision is rejected by the consumer it is a non-binding decision and we do not require the company to implement it. The case is closed and the Energy Ombudsman’s involvement is at an end.

If a consumer accepts our decision it is binding on the company and it then has 28 days to implement the decision. This period starts from the first day after we notify the energy company that the consumer has accepted our decision. Once evidence has been provided confirming all remedy points have been completed, the complaint will be closed.

If the remedy is not completed in full at the end of the 28-day period, the failure to implement remedy policy will begin. If we have not heard from the company that the remedy is implemented in full, we may contact the consumer to verify the status of the remedy.

Failure to Implement Policy

If a company displays systemic failure with the implementation of its remedies, the Energy Ombudsman will charge a company an administration fee which reflects the number of remedy cases overdue. This is to reflect the cost of monitoring ongoing failure to implement the remedy by the Energy Ombudsman.

Should the remedy still be outstanding after Day 85, the consumer will have the opportunity to request a further review to address the specific failure to implement the remedy. The additional review will take place at the point the remedy is implemented and takes into account any detriment being experienced by the consumer due to failed remedy delivery.

The Energy Ombudsman will also confirm and explain that the Deed Poll between the Energy Ombudsman and the energy company allows the consumer to pursue the energy company through court. The Energy Ombudsman will offer non-financial support to the consumer if they decide to go through this process. The Energy Ombudsman may also notify the regulator of the energy company’s failure to implement the remedy.

Exceptional circumstances

If there are exceptional circumstances which mean the energy company cannot complete the remedy in full, the company must notify the Energy Ombudsman within the original 28 days allowed for remedy implementation. The definition of an exceptional circumstance is an action required by a third party to assist with remedy implementation which is outside of the control of the energy company.

If a remedy requires co-operation from the consumer and this is not received, the Energy Ombudsman will grant an appropriate extension and may then close the complaint after explaining to the consumer its intention to do so.

If the Energy Ombudsman agrees that there are exceptional circumstances, a further 28 days extension (potentially longer if an industry process is required) will be granted to complete the remedy without triggering the failure to implement policy. This process should be followed should the exceptional circumstances continue beyond the extension. The energy company is expected to complete any parts of the remedy which are not affected by the exceptional circumstances. Failure to do so will trigger the failure to implement policy as explained above.