Contract suppliers have a duty to offer a contract when they receive a ‘request from a domestic customer’1Condition 22 SLC and will supply electricity to you if the contract is accepted. Normally, it is quite clear that you are requesting a supply but, to ensure it is treated as valid, your request should include:
•details of the premises to be supplied; and
•the day on which the supply should commence; and
•maximum power to be supplied, if this differs from that normally required by an ordinary domestic customer; and
•the minimum period for supply; and
•any reference to a continuing supply already established at the premises (where relevant).
Under Standard Licence Condition (SLC) 22, the supplier must offer to enter into a domestic supply contract with you as soon as is reasonably practical. The duty to provide a supply is only enforceable by Ofgem because it is contained in the supplier’s licence, not in the Electricity Act 1989 (see Chapter 14). The contract must be in a standard form containing all the terms and conditions, including the price and your right to terminate the contract. Suppliers must behave in a ‘fair, honest, transparent, appropriate and professional manner’ and provide you with complete and accurate information.2Condition 0 SLC
If you accept the offer of a contract, the supplier must provide, and continue to provide, a supply of electricity until the contract is properly terminated, subject to certain exceptions detailed below. If the supplier fails to fulfil its obligations in the contract, this is a breach of contract that may give rise to legal remedies, including a right to compensation.
It is worth noting that the SLCs for contract suppliers make no mention of ‘occupier’ or anything else connected with your right to occupy the place where you want a supply of electricity. The term ‘occupier’ is not defined in the SLCs but covers any person who occupies any premises legally, whether paying rent or some other charge, or paying nothing (see here for squatters).3Woodcock v South Western Electricity Board  2 All ER 545 A small minority of customers are covered by tariff suppliers that have different legal provisions. Tariff suppliers’ duties to supply are set out in the Electricity Act 1989, whereas contract suppliers’ duties with their individual tariffs are set out in the licence granted to them by Ofgem. Tariff suppliers have a statutory duty to supply you if:4ss16 and 64 EA 1989
•you are an owner or occupier of the premises; and
•you request a supply by giving notice in writing.
Relatively few customers remain who are subject to former tariff arrangements. There is, however, provision for an alternative status for these old tariff customers. This is known as a ‘special agreement’ under section 22 of the Electricity Act 1989. The terms and conditions which bind both you and the tariff supplier are the terms of the agreement rather than those under the Act. Under a tariff supplier’s licence, a special agreement is referred to as a ‘contract’, so that a special agreement must be a designated supply contract and must conform to the licence conditions covering the form and content of designated supply contracts (see here).
There are two circumstances in which the question of a special agreement might arise.
•A supplier has the discretion to grant you a special agreement if you ask for one when you give notice requiring a supply.
•You could be required to enter into a special agreement by the supplier if it is ‘reasonable in all the circumstances’.
In practice, most domestic supplies are now by way of contract and reference may be made to the SLCs.