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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70405
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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What are the standard arguments to use at Magistrates court

Resolved Question:

What are the standard arguments to use at Magistrates court to oppose an electricity company obtaining a warrant of entry to disconnect supply at commercial premises, where (a) a debt is owed by previous tenant and (b) me, new tenant, has just moved in and applied for supply contract?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Does a warrant exist already?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

no, the application hearing is tomorrow.

Also please note points:

1. the electric has told the previous tenant they wont transfer account
until he has paid them substantially.

2. as the occupier, i have not received any direct notice from the electric company of the warrant application hearing tomorrow.

3. the previous occupant has told me has has agreed an instalment plan with them to pay over 3 payments, and he has already paid the first one.

4. this is my 1st month of my 3 year lease. i have not had any bill. i have just received a form in the post today "Change of Tenant" asking me to fill in and send back.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

the electric company's warrant application is being made under Rights of Entry (Gas and Electricity Boards) Act 1954, section 2.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
The standard defences don't really apply very much.
I have to say the usual one is from single mothers who rock up and whinge and moan about having fatherless children and being improvident and being the victim of domestic abuse and other similar excuses for not paying their bills.
The point is though that you are a commercial customer and if you are male then you cannot play the victim card. I wouldn't worry. I find courts are becoming increasingly sceptical.
The obvious point for you to take is that your account is in dispute. Not the sum of course but the liable person. If the facts are as you say then I would be surprised if the utility company even seek a warrant.
You won't have any bill because it will have gone to the old tenant.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

in principal, they have said they will seek the Warrant but if the old tenant pays the instalments, they will not enforce it.

surely, i am not party to the old tenants debts, so is there any provision I can rely on to even prevent the warrant being granted, or will it (as you have said) rely on the Magistrate accepting the common sense points already made?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

in relation to "I find courts are becoming increasingly sceptical" - is that towards the utility company or the tenant?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No, that is towards people pretending to be victims. It doesn't apply here.
This is a perfectly normal contract dispute which doesn't amount to a defence to the application but is likely to be considered when exercising discretion.
You will find the law here
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Eliz2/2-3/21/section/2
and it doesn't give you the defence you mention above although I suppose you could argue it falls under the first head of reasonable requirement.
Jo C. and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The rep from the utility company saw sense and withdrew the application before the hearing, realising i am not the debtor but the new commercial tenant. Thanks again.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I had imagined they would do that.
Shame they brought it to court.
Glad it worked out.