Ofgem issues ‘statement of objections’: did companies break competition law?

Ofgem has alleged that three companies  - energy suppliers Economy Energy and E (Gas and Electricity) and consultancy Dyball Associates – have broken competition law.

In a ‘statement of objections’, the regulator alleges that:

  • Between at least January and September 2016, the three companies had an agreement that prevented the two suppliers actively targeting each other’s customers through face-to-face sales.
  • To facilitate this agreement, the companies shared commercially sensitive information, in the form of details about their current customers.
  • Dyball facilitated this arrangement by designing, implementing and maintaining software systems that allowed customer lists to be shared, and recruitment of each other’s customers to be blocked.

Ofgem said its provisional view was that these arrangements prevented, restricted and distorted competition amongst energy suppliers. The regulator said, “At this stage in the investigation, our findings are provisional. We have not found there has been a breach of competition law. We will carefully consider any representations from the companies before deciding whether the law has in fact been broken”.

The regulator said that the statement of objections gives notice of a proposed infringement decision and the parties can respond to the case set out by Ofgem.

The Gas And Electricity Markets authority (GEMA), Ofgem’s governing body, may impose a financial penalty on any business found to have infringed competition law in this way of up to 10% of its annual worldwide group turnover.