A court has upheld a claim against listed water supplier Tallinna Vesi for the compensation of alleged overcharging.
The first-tier Tallinn-based Harju County Court upheld the claim, brought by OÜ Salinee, of over €11 million, inclusive of interest.
Tallinna Vesi itself says it wholly rejects the claim, saying it has always acted legitimately in applying fair tariffs imposed in accordance with current law.
AS Tallinna Vesi CEO Aleksandr Timofejev said: "The company has always acted legitimately by applying fair tariffs imposed in accordance with the law in force, and in our opinion, there are no grounds for submitting claims.
"The water tariff applied in the service area of Tallinna Vesi is one of the lowest in Estonia. Regular laboratory tests and customer feedback confirm that drinking water is of high quality and consumers are pleased with our services. To ensure this, we are making continuous investments to improve the water service," Timofejev went on.
The company says the current proceedings will have no impact on its financial results or share price.
"To hedge the risks, however, we have formed a provision to ensure the company's sustainable development and continue with planned investments," Timofejev added.
Representative of the claimant Indrek Leppik told BNS that: "Tallinna Vesi as the monopolistic entrepreneur in the market has earned unlawful revenues exceeding the permitted amount at the expense of consumers of water services."
The claims date from the period 2011-2019a nd total €6,977,340.52 euros plus interest of the amount of €3,214,378.59, while the court action may take two to three years to resolve, according to Leppik.
Tallinna Vesi said that the claimant has requested that the proceeding be suspended until a final ruling has been issued in the civil case pending before the Harju County Court, where nine undertakings claimed compensation of €1.4 million euros in the same circumstances. No hearing on this has yet taken place.
A Supreme Court decision of 2017 confirming in a dispute between the Competition Authority (Konkurentsiamet) and Tallinna Vesi that water services prices in the service areas of Tallinn and Saue had been incompatible with requirements in the Public Water Supply and Sewerage Act since 2011 is a precedent, Leppik added.
Tallinna Vesi is one of only a few private sector water firms in Estonia, and by far the largest. Water supply is the responsibility of local authorities in most other districts and settlements.
Editor: Andrew Whyte