4. Disconnection of the supply
If a supplier alleges theft or tampering, it may want to disconnect the supply until you make arrangements to pay for the loss. You should seek legal advice if the supplier intends to bring a civil claim against you on the basis of theft, if you have not been charged or convicted of any offence in the criminal courts.
Disconnection powers arise under a number of different provisions and it is useful to find out which power the supplier is relying on. Each power has its own limitations and it is important to make sure they are not exceeded. In particular, the powers to disconnect for damage to, or tampering with, a meter are different from the power to disconnect for arrears. The supplier should clarify which power it is exercising when seeking to disconnect a supply. For instance, longer notice must be given before disconnection for arrears takes place, but in tampering cases only 24 hours may be given for gas1Sch 2B para 24(2) GA 1986 and no notice at all for electricity, on the basis that the tamperer could be forewarned to get rid of the evidence. See Chapter 10 for the supplier’s rights to enter your home in order to carry out the disconnection.