What can you do ?
If you have been caught in this unfortunate situation - and judging by the comments and complaints on the internet - a lot of people have, just what can you do ?
There are a number of avenues, but ALL of them are lengthy and time consuming as well as being emotionally exhausting. Please read the WARNING NOTE at the end of this article.
Apart from winning in court which requires a comptetent solicitor, none of them is likely to resolve the matter in your favour.
The order in which you are supposed to proceed is as follows:
- Complain to your "Supplier" that you are NOT in an eligible premises. In most cases this will be Scottish Water Business Stream, who will quote the CMA Scotland rule book [the Market Code], and tell you that nevertheless you must pay.
- Then you can take your complaint to the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman. This will be very lengthy and your complaint will be investigated by someone who probably has litttle education, no detailed knowledge of the water industry, and almost certainly no legal qualification. The chances of success are generally remote.
So what else can you do ?
- Go to your MSP. Most MSP's are helpful. What they do is go to your supplier on your behalf and come back with the same answer as you would have got from the above process.
- Go to the Water Industry Commission for Scotland. They will "explain matters" to you. Really all you will get is the same answers as elsewhere.
- The last resort [where maybe you should have gone first]. Involve the Law and the Courts.
- Tell the supplier they are wrong and you are not paying Water or Sewerage Charges.
- Listen to the threats from them on the phone, by mail, and email. Keep saying "NOT liable as NOT in an eligible premises"
- Then suffer the torrent of abuse [the same again] from a firm of debt collectors.
- Then in comes a writ. Appoint a solicitor, and defend it. The typical cost is about £4,000. Refer your solicitor to this web site.
May we wish you all the best, because it is a hard slog.
A NOTE of WARNING: There are usually two phases to a case: First is the demand: Water and Sewerage Charges [4 items on your bill], and Drainage Charges [2 items]. In the second phase, the Scottish Water Business Stream lawyers will try and yield on the Water & Sewerage charges in return for you paying Drainage Charges only and No Costs either way. That is a BAD deal, as in our view there is no liability for Drainage Charges in premises which are NOT Eligible Premises.
But the time you get to this stage, you may be exhausted, and just want to take a "commercial decision" to pay up and get on with your business.