UK High Court rules for solar companies’ £132 million damages claim.

Solar Power Portal: “The High Court has ruled in favour of 14 UK solar companies who brought a £132 million damages claim against the government.”
“The group was pursuing damages following the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) “legally flawed” cuts to the feed-in tariff scheme in 2011.
The companies claim that the “unlawful and unfair” cuts to the feed-in tariff caused their businesses substantial damages resulting in thousands of redundancies.
Prospect Law, the group’s legal representation, claims that it has obtained a ruling on “the essential legal questions in the case”. The group is seeking damages under the Human Rights Act 1998, in order to do so the claimant companies had to prove that they had ‘possessions’ for the purposes of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Mr Justice Coulson ruled that the claimant firms did have possessions; that DECC unlawfully interfered with their possessions; and that DECC’s conduct caused substantial losses which were not justified.
In addition, Mr Justice Coulson ruled that the companies are entitled to “just satisfaction” for losses incurred as a result.
Mr Justice Coulson, added: “Although the entitlement to damages will ultimately depend on the facts, as a matter of general principle, the claimants have demonstrated an entitlement to damages assessed by reference to the loss of those possessions for which recovery is permissible, namely signed/concluded contracts and/or the marketable goodwill referable to such contracts.”
A DECC spokesperson told Solar Power Portal: “We are unhappy about this judgement and will be appealing against it.  We believed we were proposing lawful changes to subsidies, which would protect consumers from rising bills at a time when windfall profits meant the industry was booming.
“Solar is a huge success in the UK, worth £2.2 billion a year, thanks to government support, and the tariff changes that protected consumers from a £50 a year bill rise by 2020 haven’t changed that success.”
Commenting on the ruling, Solarlec’s Nick Keighley, one of the firms claiming damages, said: “The good news is that small-scale solar power generation is now on the road to recovery…However, the fact is that the industry was treated very badly by DECC, and their actions in 2011 damaged the growing industry and severely harmed the ability of companies such as ours in a key growth sector from investing, innovating and creating much-needed jobs as well as contributing the to UK carbon reduction commitments.”
Keighly continued: “2012 and 2013 should have been years for continued growth, innovation, investment and training in the solar sector, instead DECC’s conduct caused us two years of cut backs, customer confusion, part time working, stress and redundancies. Many in the industry had to let staff go in the weeks following Greg Barker’s announcement. We asked for compensation to be paid to us to help us get up to speed again and to help secure the clean and affordable energy supply we need. We’ve just about made it through and our focus is now on investing in a much diminished workforce and planning for the future. If the government really does support solar, it needs to compensate businesses for the losses it caused and move forward with the industry.”
Stuart Elmes, chief executive of Viridian Solar questioned where the funds for the damages would come from:
Individual claims range from £250,000 to tens of millions. The solar companies seeking damages are: Freetricity Plc, Ecovision, Cleaner Air Solutions, Solarlec, Breyer Group Plc, New Energy Solutions, E-tricity, Foz Electrical, Green Home Ltd, Viscount Solar Ltd, Evo Energy, Crystal Windows, Monitor My Solar and Solar Power PV Ltd.”