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Your liability for the bill
To be eligible to enter into a contract, you must be the owner or occupier of the property where the gas supply is needed. You must request a supply, though your request need not be in writing.1Condition 22.2 SLC
A supplier may not enter into a contract with you if someone else has a contract for the supply of gas with another supplier for the same premises,2Condition 22 SLC unless that contract will expire or terminate before you require a supply. In practice, you do not have to terminate your existing contract formally before entering a new one – if you sign up to a new contract, the switch should be handled by the two suppliers.
You need to agree to the terms of your contract with your supplier. Terms of contracts are not individually negotiated. However, contracts must be in writing and include terms detailing the charges for the supply and termination of the supply.3Condition 22.4 SLC Your supplier has a ‘scheme’, approved by Ofgem, setting out the ‘principal terms’ of the various contracts on offer. Your supplier must take all reasonable steps to communicate the principal terms to you.4Condition 23.1 SLC You can request a copy of the principal terms, which must be sent within a reasonable period.5Condition 22.8 SLC
Contracts may be for an indefinite period (known as a ‘rolling contract’) or a fixed period. Where a contract is due to come to an end, you have the option of agreeing either a new fixed-term contract or a new rolling contract with your existing supplier. If you do nothing, your supplier must switch you to the relevant cheapest rolling tariff it is able to offer. This switch happens automatically if no new contract is agreed.6Condition 22C.7 SLC The terms of contracts are restricted by provisions within a supplier’s licence and regulated by Ofgem.
1     Condition 22.2 SLC »
2     Condition 22 SLC »
3     Condition 22.4 SLC »
4     Condition 23.1 SLC »
5     Condition 22.8 SLC »
6     Condition 22C.7 SLC »
Ending your liability for the bill
You are liable to pay for the supply under the terms of the contract until one of the following applies.
    Your contract comes to an end. If a contract for a specified period is due to come to an end, the supplier must provide you with a statement of renewal terms no earlier than 49 days before the fixed-term period is due to end.1Condition 24.17 SLC and 31I.1 SLC This must be separate from any other document such as a bill, statement of account or marketing material.2Condition 22C.5 SLC and 31I.7 SLC
    You terminate your contract while you are still an owner/occupier of the premises. A contract for a fixed period may be ended at any time during that period if you give the supplier notice according to the contract and pay any termination fee referred to in the contract, if liable, unless either of the following conditions apply.3Condition 24.1 SLC
      Your contract is of an indefinite length of time. This also applies where an initial fixed-term contract has expired and you have continued to receive a supply from the company on a rolling contract.4Condition 24.3 SLC
      Your supplier has unilaterally varied a term in your contract. The most obvious example is a price increase. However, any other changes made to your terms which significantly disadvantage you also apply here, such as placing you on a higher tariff.5Condition 14A.6 SLC and 24.3 SLC
    You terminate your contract with your supplier and switch to another supplier. See Chapter 2 for more information about this process. You do not have to pay a termination fee if you want to switch because your supplier has changed the terms of your contract unilaterally. You must notify your current supplier of your intention to switch on or before the date the variation takes effect in order to avoid the possibility of you being charged a termination or exit fee. This notification does not have to be in writing. If you notify your supplier orally or online, make a note of the date and the name of the person you spoke to or a copy of your email or online account record. You do not have to actually switch supplier or switch within a particular timeframe to avoid the termination fees, you simply need to notify your intention to do so.
If you have arrears with your current supplier, you can still in theory change supplier, but you must clear the arrears within 30 days. A supplier can stop you from switching to another supplier where a debt has not been repaid for 28 days or more. This is known as a ‘debt objection’.
If you have a prepayment meter, your supplier can only block you from switching to another supplier if you owe more than £500.6Ofgem, The Debt Assignment Protocol If you switch, you take your debt with you and repay it to your new supplier under a ‘debt assignment protocol’ (DAP).7Ofgem, The Debt Assignment Protocol Energy UK has produced a factsheet which is useful if you are an indebted prepayment meter customer and seek to switch supplier.8Energy UK factsheet on the Debt Assignment Protocol, 1 December 2016,
    You no longer occupy the premises. The supplier must include a term that the supply contract ends two days after you have told the supplier of the date on which you stop owning or occupying the premises. If you do not give notice, the contract must end at either:
      the end of the second working day after you have notified that you have stopped owning or occupying the premises; or
      the date on which any other person begins to own or occupy the premises and takes a supply of gas at those premises.9Condition 24.1(b) SLC
Where a contract is brought to an end in this way, you remain liable for the supply of gas to the property until the date on which that contract ends.10Condition 24.2 SLC
If you give your supplier a minimum of two working days’ notice, or if your supplier agrees to accept a shorter period of notice before you leave, your contract ends on the day you leave.
If you do not give your supplier notice that you are leaving, your contract will not terminate, and you will continue to be liable to pay for the supply of gas until the earlier of:
    two days after you have told the supplier you have left; or
    the date when another person requires a supply at the premises from either the same or a different supplier.11Condition 24.1(b) SLC
It is always in your interest to inform the supplier that you are leaving/have left. Make sure you arrange for the supplier to take a final meter reading and also read the meter yourself so you can check your final bill in the event that a dispute arises over the final bill. Keep a copy of any correspondence and a photograph of the meter.
    The supplier varies the terms of your contract. If your supplier increases the charges made under the terms of your contract or varies other terms of your contract unilaterally and the variations will significantly disadvantage you, the supplier must inform you of the changes made. Note that Ofgem has ruled that suppliers must encourage and promote positive engagement from customers.12Ofgem, Five narrow principles introduced, 17 December 2018 They must give you reasonable time and notice in an appropriate form (taking into account your characteristics and preferences)13Condition 31I.3 SLC of a price rise or any other change which will leave you worse off.14Condition 23.3 SLC and 31I SLC The supplier must also notify you that you have the option to change supplier, that you may financially benefit from doing so15Condition 31F.4 SLC or enter into a new contract16Condition 31I.4 SLC and provide you with information, tools and services to make informed tariff and consumption choices17Condition 31F.3 SLC and avoid any changes before they take effect.18Condition 31I SLC This includes switching information, such as the cheapest available tariff, estimated annual costs and information about your existing tariff to enable you to compare tariffs across the retail market.19Condition 31F.5 SLC If you decide to terminate your contract after receiving a price increase notice, and switch to another supplier, your old supplier must terminate your contract within 20 days of receiving confirmation that you now have a contract with your new supplier.20Condition 24.10 SLC Your old supplier cannot apply the price rise to your bill for the remainder of your contract with it.21Condition 24.11 SLC
    The supplier’s licence is revoked by Ofgem. This can be for reasons including regulatory intervention or supplier entering administration. If this happens, your contract with that supplier is terminated. Ofgem will require another supplier to continue to supply you with gas under terms directed by Ofgem.22Condition 8.2(b) SLC You then become liable to pay the new supplier under those terms. If you choose to enter into a contract with the new supplier, the terms of the contract apply from the date you enter into the contract. The same applies if you choose to be supplied by a different supplier.
1     Condition 24.17 SLC and 31I.1 SLC »
2     Condition 22C.5 SLC and 31I.7 SLC »
3     Condition 24.1 SLC »
4     Condition 24.3 SLC »
5     Condition 14A.6 SLC and 24.3 SLC »
6     Ofgem, The Debt Assignment Protocol »
7     Ofgem, The Debt Assignment Protocol »
8     Energy UK factsheet on the Debt Assignment Protocol, 1 December 2016, »
9     Condition 24.1(b) SLC »
10     Condition 24.2 SLC »
11     Condition 24.1(b) SLC »
12     Ofgem, Five narrow principles introduced, 17 December 2018 »
13     Condition 31I.3 SLC »
14     Condition 23.3 SLC and 31I SLC »
15     Condition 31F.4 SLC »
16     Condition 31I.4 SLC »
17     Condition 31F.3 SLC »
18     Condition 31I SLC »
19     Condition 31F.5 SLC »
20     Condition 24.10 SLC »
21     Condition 24.11 SLC »
22     Condition 8.2(b) SLC »