Lawfulness of local authority water charges returns to the High Court

A case in the High Court considers whether local authority tenants should benefit from discounts agreed between local authorities and water suppliers.

A test case that will consider whether local authorities and housing associations have acted lawfully in failing to pass on to their tenants any discount or commission agreed with water companies is being heard in the Chancery Division of the High Court on 25-29 October 2019. This follows Deighton Pierce Glynn’s success in the case of Jones v Southwark London Borough Council in 2016, which established that hundreds of thousands of tenants had been overcharged for water and sewerage over decades due to the failure to pass on to them the discounts agreed with the water company by the local authority.

Some local authority tenants have now claimed for repayment of excess water charges in light of that judgment and the issue has now returned to the High Court in a claim brought by the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames against another Deighton Pierce Glynn client.

Kingston are seeking a declaration that their water agreement did not constitute “re-sale” of water under the relevant legislation (subject to a statutory requirement to pass on any discount), but instead was a form of agency contract or a statutorily permitted arrangement to sell water on behalf of Thames Water.

Our client argues that the agreement between Kingston and Thames Water was materially the same as that considered in the earlier Jones case and the same conclusion should follow.

It is likely that the judge will reserve judgment at the end of the hearing and it will follow after several weeks.

For more details of the Jones case see:

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