2. Right of entry with a warrant
If you do not consent to the supplier entering your premises in accordance with any of the above rights, or there is no adult to give such consent, the supplier or transporter can get a magistrates’ warrant (or the Scottish equivalent). In an emergency, a supplier does not need to get a warrant, but can obtain one nevertheless if entry is obstructed despite the emergency. The issue of a warrant is governed by the Rights of Entry (Gas and Electricity Boards) Act 1954.1s1(3) RE(GEB)A 1954; this applies to Scotland under s11(7) Although the application is dealt with through the magistrates’ court, the application is a civil matter, not a criminal matter.
To get the warrant, the supplier must apply to the magistrates’ court or, in Scotland, to a Justice of the Peace, a magistrate or a sheriff. The warrant is granted if the court is satisfied that:
•entry to the premises is reasonably required by the supplier; and
•the supplier has a right of entry, but that right is subject to getting consent to enter; and
•any conditions the supplier is supposed to meet in order to exercise the right of entry (eg, to give notice) have been met.
Also, the court must be satisfied that:
•if the right of entry does not itself have a requirement for notice, 24 hours’ notice has been given after which entry was refused; or
•there is an emergency and entry has been refused; or
•the purpose of entering would be defeated by asking for consent – eg, if tampering is suspected.
A warrant is only valid if it is signed by the Justice of the Peace (or the sheriff in Scotland).
In recent years, the practice has been to use the warrant system to fit prepayment meters (or remotely recalibrate smart meters from credit to repayment mode) rather than actually disconnect a supply. In 2021, there were 21 disconnections for gas/electricity debt in the UK.2Ofgem, Customer Service Data, Q1 2021 - Q4 2021: See here if you do not want a prepayment meter imposed. A warrant of entry remains in force for 28 days. If entry is not sought within this period, the warrant lapses.3s101 EA 1989, amending s2 RE(GEB)A 1954
A warrant for entry and disconnection may be quashed or set aside by the court where it has been obtained against the wrong person or premises. The supplier must act exactly in accordance with the terms of a warrant. If you are unhappy with an entry by warrant, check its wording precisely.
A warrant for entry and disconnection may not be executed if you have entered into a breathing space standard debt respite scheme or mental health debt respite scheme (see here).4DRS Regs