Consumer Protection

Energy Supply Codes of Practice

All electricity and gas suppliers operating in the Northern Ireland retail market must produce, gain approval for, and comply with the Energy Supplier Codes of Practice.  For electricity suppliers this is a mandatory licence requirement under conditions 30, 31, 33, 34 and 35 of the electricity supply licences.  For gas suppliers this is a mandatory licence requirement under conditions 2.8, 2.9, 2.11, 2.12 and 2.13 of the gas supply licences.  The Energy Supplier Codes of Practice are:

-  Code of Practice on Payment of Bills (applies to domestic customers)
-  Code of Practice on Provision of Services for persons who are of Pensionable Age or Disabled or Chronically Sick (applies to domestic customers)
-  Code of Practice on Complaints Handling Procedure (applies to all customers both domestic and business)
-  Code of Practice on Services for Prepayment Meter Customers (applies to domestic customers)

Once approved, each supplier must publish a copy of their Codes of Practice on their own company website and each supplier must comply with their own Codes of Practice. Failure to comply with a Code of Practice, which has been approved by the Utility Regulator, could constitute a breach of licence conditions.

In order to ensure a consistently high standard, and after an extensive engagement process, the UR published minimum standards for Codes of Practice.  These minimum standards help to ensure that customers, and in particular vulnerable customers, are further protected in their relationship and dealings with electricity and natural gas suppliers.

Code of practice on the efficient use of electricity/gas

Gas and electricity suppliers are required to produce, gain approval for, and comply with their Code of practice on the efficient use of electricity/gas.  This is a mandatory licence requirement for electricity suppliers under conditions 32 and 35 of the electricity supply licence and it is a mandatory licence requirement for gas suppliers under conditions 2.10 and 2.13 of the gas supply licences.

These codes require all electricity and gas suppliers to make available to their consumers information and advice about the efficient use of electricity or gas.  We have approved interim codes of practice in relation to energy efficiency for all suppliers.  Once approved, each supplier must publish a copy of their Code of Practice on their own company website and each supplier must comply with their own Codes of Practice. Failure to comply with a Code of Practice, which has been approved by the Utility Regulator, could constitute a breach of licence conditions.

Marketing Code of Practice

The implementation of the EU’s Third Package of energy market Directives (IME3) resulted in licence modifications which required the development of a new Marketing Code of Practice. We have issued a Marketing Code of Practice for domestic customers, and one for business customers, which became effective on the 19 June 2014.

All gas and electricity suppliers are required to comply with the Marketing Codes of Practice. This is a mandatory licence requirement for electricity suppliers under condition 40 of the electricity supply licence and it is a mandatory licence requirement for gas suppliers under condition 2.21 of the gas supply licences.

The Marketing Code of Practice will protect gas and electricity consumers, in particular the vulnerable ones, from inappropriate marketing practices, ensuring that they can make an informed, un-pressurised decision on whether or not to change their energy supplier. Compliance with the new code is mandatory and a licence requirement for all regulated electricity and gas suppliers in Northern Ireland.  All energy suppliers must be compliant with the code and failure to comply will be subject to enforcement action under licence breach procedures.

Code of Practice on Bills and Statements

All gas and electricity supply licences include a requirement for suppliers to comply with the Code of Practice on Bills and Statements (referred to as the Billing Code of Practice in each licence).  This is a mandatory licence requirement for electricity suppliers under condition 38 of the electricity supply licence and it is a mandatory licence requirement for gas suppliers under condition 2.19 of the gas supply licences. 

The Code of Practice on Bills and Statements has not yet been implemented by the Utility Regulator, however we have published a consultation on a new Code of Practice on Bills and Statements.  The consultation closes on 7 October 2016 and we will endeavour to publish the final decision paper by the end of 2016.  The decision paper will include details and timelines for implementation of this Code of Practice.

Energy Consumer Checklist

In order to improve the access to relevant and complete information for consumers, the European Commission has introduced the European Energy Consumer Checklist.  The checklist is a collection of questions and subsequent answers which provide clear, concise and practical information to consumers concerning their rights in relation to the energy sector.

The Utility Regulator and Consumer Council Northern Ireland have produced responses to the questions outlined in the Checklist for relevance to Northern Ireland consumers.

Download a copy of the full Energy Consumer Checklist