After the British government decided to cut back the feed-in tariffs for new solar installations in 2011, five outraged installers took the matter to court, seeking a 140 million GBP compensation. Now the government reached an out of court settlement with them.
In Britain, the fight between the government and the solar installers over the industry’s feed-in tariffs has come to an end after six turbulent years. In October 2011, the British government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change announced its decision to cut back the feed-in tariffs from 43.3 pence/kWh to 21 pence/kWh for all solar installations built from December 2011. This caused a major outrage among most of the industry’s installers, such as Homesun or Solarcentury, who sued the government over this. The High Court ruled in favour of the installers – a decision the government appealed immediately, but to no success.
Over two years later, in January 2013, a total of 17 installers decided to sue the government over this decision again, this time increasing the amount of the compensation sought from 2.2 million GBP to 140 million GBP. However, only five went through with the decision. In April 2015, both the government’s appeal and cross-appeal were dismissed as the Court, again, ruled in favour of the prosecutors.
Out of court agreement reached
Commencing in January this year, a final decision on the compensation was to be made over a ten-week trial, yet the government chose to settle out of court. This was successful, as the prosecutors representative law firm Asserson confirmed that both parties came to an agreement on Monday. However, the details of the settlement will not be disclosed.
Government explained reasons for settlement
A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy explained the situation as follows: “The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy has settled litigation following a legal challenge to tariff changes proposed in 2011 by the Department for Energy and Climate Change. The tariff changes were proposed because of the urgent need to protect energy customers from the rising costs of the feed-in tariff scheme. Government continues to review the scheme to ensure it represents value for money for bill payers and a fair return for investors.”
Law firm Asserson hopes that the case will result in more careful decision-making from the government
The claimants’ law firm, Asserson, hopes that the outcome of the case will encourage more people to stand up against unfair decisions. Trevor Asserson, partner at Asserson, said: “The settlements are evidence that pursuing claims against the government is a “real option” for those who suffer at the hands of unfair decisions which breach their fundamental rights. This outcome is a victory for the solar industry and vindicates the way the industry reacted to the government’s actions at the time in 2011. This will hopefully encourage more careful government decision-making in the future.”
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