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Your liability when you contacted the supplier by telephone
Many electricity suppliers will connect your electricity supply without asking you to sign anything at all to confirm that you require a supply or that you accept liability to pay for any electricity supplied. Many operate a system where you negotiate with them by telephone to obtain your supply. In these situations, it is often clear exactly who is requesting the supply. Usually, payment is requested from the person who made the telephone call.
In the law of contract, in most situations, a verbal contract is as good as a written one, so what matters is not whether you signed a formal document but whether it can be shown that you were the person who asked for the supply and entered into the contract.
There is a danger that someone can contact the supplier over the phone to say that you want the supply to be in your name, but you have no knowledge of this and do not consent to it. In one case, a gas supplier attempted to obtain payment from a tenant. The tenant did not contact the supplier to request the supply in his own name and, in fact, paid his landlord for gas in with the rent. One bill was paid in the tenant’s name, but there was no evidence that the tenant had made this payment. It was held that the tenant was not liable to pay for the gas consumed.1British Gas Plc v Mitchell (unreported) Pontefract County Court, May 1994 Although this case relates to gas, the principles apply equally to electricity.
Establishing joint liability for a supply may be problematic if you contact the supplier by phone. In practice, it is straightforward to ask the supplier to include someone else’s name on the bill as well as your own, but what if that person denies s/he had an agreement to be jointly liable with you? It is best in these circumstances if everyone who requires the supply in her/his name signs for the supply. Your liability to pay starts from the date you ask for the supply to be put in your name. It will end on the basis of the rules given on here. Always arrange a final reading of the meter, and take a reading yourself to check your final bill.
1     British Gas Plc v Mitchell (unreported) Pontefract County Court, May 1994 »