Law firm Piper Alderman has filed the nation’s largest energy class action suit, on behalf of over 50,730 electricity customers, in the Federal Court of Australia against two Queensland state owned electricity generators.
The QLD Energy Class Action is a legal claim being brought against electricity generators Stanwell and CS Energy for allegedly manipulating the electricity pricing system and artificially inflating consumers’ electricity bills.
The class action was initiated on 18 June 2020 by Piper Alderman and is funded by LCM (an Australian litigation funder). The action is brought on behalf of anyone who paid for electricity in Queensland at any point from 20 January 2015 to 20 January 2021 and who has registered to participate.
The majority of registrants are residential energy customers. However, there are also over 1,600 businesses registered. These comprise ASX listed companies, industrial users of electricity and SMEs.
The claim filed is seeking damages on behalf of registered participants only, however, Piper Alderman has indicated that it will apply to join new registrants to the action providing a final opportunity for electricity consumers to join the action if they wish.
As a litigation funder is covering the legal costs, it does not cost anything to join the action. The QLD Energy Class Action is based on a “no win, no fee” basis.
Greg Whyte, head of Piper Alderman’s Dispute Resolution and Litigation team in Brisbane, said, “There is a lot of complexity in electricity generation and power prices.
“Our team has spent over two years investigating Stanwell and CS Energy’s unlawful conduct.
“The unlawful conduct occurred at the generation stage, and your retailer simply passed that cost through to consumers.
“This is why this action is available to all Queensland businesses and residents.
“The facts indicate, and we will seek to prove, that the defendants manipulated the wholesale cost of electricity for their own profit. It amounts to a hidden tax paid by Queenslanders.
“We brought this action on behalf of Queensland based businesses and households who have all been affected. The conduct of Stanwell and CS Energy has had a devastating effect on the Queensland economy.
“Queenslanders who paid for electricity between January 2015 and January 2021 are invited to visit www.QLDEnergyClassAction.com.au to register for the action. I encourage them all to join.”
In a media release, Stanwell said, “The proposed class action is opportunistic and entrepreneurial, funded by an international litigation funder that treats class actions as a means of generating profits.
“Stanwell strongly rejects Piper Alderman’s allegations and will vigorously defend the allegations in the courts.
“At no stage has the Australian Energy Regulator found Stanwell misused its market power or breached market rules.
“Many of the allegations being made by Piper Alderman quote a 2016 report by the Grattan Institute.
“The Australian Energy Market Commission – which makes the rules for the National Electricity Market – has reviewed the Grattan Institute’s 2016 report and dismissed many of the claims contained in it, including key allegations which Piper Alderman is levelling against Stanwell.
“Queensland taxpayers would bear the costs of defending this class action because it will reduce the dividends which Stanwell can deliver to help fund vital health, education and police services.”