Consumer vs. company
30 September, 2010
Consumer vs. company

Georgian regulatory body for electricity, gas and water is authorized to bring misappropriation lawsuits. Only court was responsible for settling the questioned suits before.

Government believes the initiative will discharge the court that abounds with the cases of energy misuse, as well as ensure better protection of consumers’ rights. Some experts think the new protection mechanism can achieve its goal only if it is well-advertized, otherwise uninformed consumers can miss their chances. 
Georgian courts swarm with the lawsuits between consumers and

companies that provide communal service such as supplying gas, water and electricity. According to Valeri Pkhakadze, Ombudsman with Georgian National Energy, Gas and Water Regulatory Commission (GNERC), headquartered in Kutaisi, in this city alone court studies litigation disputes between consumers and companies 2-3 times per week and each court session includes about 8-12 cases of consumers vs. companies. Statistics is much bigger in Tbilisi where over million people live. The point is that a gas, electricity and water distribution company had an obligation to write a protocol on each suspicious misappropriation case and send it to court for final approval. And only after court’s decision companies had a right to impose a penalty on delinquent consumers. And as much as high penalty rates fixed for misappropriation cases enticed monopolist distribution companies to accuse as much people as possible in misuse of gas, electricity and water they do not miss a chance to write a protocol of administrative felony on each petty misdemeanor. As a result number of litigation procedures [between consumers and companies] only increases each year bespeaking that situation needs better regulation, Pkakadze said.
Georgian government found courts encumbered by company-vs.-consumer case. To discharge courts from piling files and discourage companies to file lawsuits on each insignificant issue, government decided to cut down penalty rates and enlarge the role of GNERC as of an impartial referee.

 


Georgian parliament initiated an amendment in this past July according to which, starting September 1st, 2010 companies are mandated to make protocols on administrative felonies and impose penalties at their own discretion. However penalties imposed for the first misappropriation cases [amounting to GEL 600 and GEL 5 thousand for physical and legal entities respectively] are revoked and distribution companies have to warn suspects initially. Culprits can be fined only for repeated crime and by much reduced penalty rates: the earlier active GEL 1200 and GEL 15 thousand [imposed on physical and legal entities respectively for repeated crime] are cut down to GEL 100 and GEL 5 thousand.
To insure protection of consumers’ rights [companies still interested in yielding financial tolls can misuse of their authority] government allows consumers to appeal to court and GNERC alike if they disagree with the company’s claim. And all claims and penalties are suspended till the final court/GNERC verdict is drawn up.
New amendment apparently makes consumers more vulnerable as leaves them tete-a-tete to companies that are enticed to abuse their power so as to enjoy higher tolls, and replaces court from the central position to the end of the chain that complicates litigation procedures, but mandating GNERC with the court functions guarantees protection of consumers rights better than before, Pkhakadze believes.


Malkhaz Dzidzikashvili, ex-Ombudsman at GNERC and active Head of Legal Department at GNERC at the moment, shuns commenting whether or not the amendment complicates or eases the situation from consumers’ rights protection point of view.
“I prefer to refrain from expressing my private opinion respective to this issue,” He told Georgian Journal.
Davit Ebralidze, another ex-ombudsman at GNERC, believes the new amendment cuts much ice with companies rather than consumers’ interests.


“This amendment was initiated to woo companies’ interests in fact and not to discharge courts. There is a huge difference. According to old regulation, companies could not practice any fine till the protocol was not approved by court. Now companies can act at their own discretion and their action can be prohibited only if a consumer lodges a complaint against its protocol. That obviously complicates the situation for consumers the more so that bigger part of population is not informed of their rights to appeal to court/GNERC,” He explained to Georgian Journal.  
Pkakadze counters that companies have an obligation to inform the suspected consumers on their rights that they can lodge a complaint against company at court/GNERC. If they do not provide the pursued consumers by full information on their rights, companies will get a warning paper for the first time, and will be fined by GEL 5 thousand for repeated misdemeanor. The penalty increases to GEL 15 thousand and GEL 45 thousand afterwards, and if the company does not observe the demanded regulations it can lose a license ultimately.
“Besides courts are related with extra payment imposed on filing lawsuits and frequently have been drawing unfair decisions, whilst empowering the GNERC with court rights can spare consumers from extra outlays and insure impartial judgment,” Pkhakadze said.


Ebralidze thumbs up that the GNERC is equalized with the court that really can guarantee better protection of consumers’ rights and draw impartial verdicts, but he believes that this novelty can work only if awareness in population will be raised.
“It is one thing when companies are obliged to inform their consumers of their rights that bigger part of consumers cannot or will not use as far as GNERC is not available to entire Georgian population from distance point of view. On the other hand consumers were automatically informed and involved in the litigation procedures when the court was positioned between company and consumer. Court [when discussing a protocol approval case] is responsible to inform the consumer to attend the court session and keeps them in course of affairs,” Ebralidze said. 


Print
Other Stories
Georgian citizens are granted the right to work in France
The French Embassy in Georgia made remarks on granting Georgian citizens the right to work in France
The New York Times: Bitcoin declines but Georgia still bet on it
The New York Times has recently published an article about reasons, challenges and causes of generating Bitcoin in the former Soviet country Georgia.
EU to allocate € 13 billion for Eastern Partnership countries, including Georgia
The European Union together with the World Bank plans to allocate investment worth € 13 billion for infrastructure projects in the Eastern Partnership countries.
Anaklia Port and its importance for Georgia
In 2016, Anaklia Development Consortium was authorized to launch the construction of Anaklia Port.
Cryptocurrency mining threatens electrical network in Abkhazia
In the breakaway region of Akbhazia rampant cryptocurrency mining is threatening the shaky electrical network, reports an article of the news portal EuroNet.
Caucasus Wine University to be opened in Gurjaani
In the Kakheti region a new viticulture campus of the Caucasus University is in the process of planning.
Photos describing life of the poorest in Georgia
Fight with poverty should be among top priorities of every government in every country.
Training farmers to rescue the organic hazelnut production in Georgia
Even drizzling rain and unpleasant gusts of wind can’t prevent the farmers from coming and participating in the agricultural training.
Bleak times for organic farmers in Georgia – but there is hope
Organic hazelnut production is a delicate plant in Georgia that has emerged just a couple of years ago. Various pests, among them the Asian stink bug Parosana, trouble hazelnut farmers and menace their livelihood – even before their businesses could really take off.
Hybrid car imports are going through the roof in Georgia
Thanks to their fuel economy, the popularity of hybrid cars is increasing in Georgia, where fuel affordability is low and prices for fuel are unstable.
The New Year offer from MAQRO Construction - Apartments with unbelievable discounts and the parking spaces for FREE!
Location, green yard, spaces for various needs, experience of the construction company and parking space are the main important criteria for potential buyers of apartments.
Interview with the co-founder of Kiwi Vegan Café – the first vegan place in Tbilisi
Behind the Kiwi Vegan Café stands a group of activists who wants to raise Georgian’s awareness for animal rights and welfare.
Biblusi opens first shop for tourists - Georgian
The largest book shop in Georgia Biblusi opens the first shop specially designated to the needs and interests of tourists and named it Georgian.
Georgia improves by five ranks in the Prosperity Index
In the overall Prosperity Index rankings, Georgia has climbed by 5 positions from 85 to 80 when compared to last year. As such, Georgia is the best performing country in the CIS zone.
The future is bright for electric cars in Georgia
The numerous hybrid cars in the streets of Tbilisi cannot be overlooked. Entrepreneur Sulkhan Gvalia calls them “pagers”, referring to the predecessor of mobile phones.
Georgia’s fight against the big tiny enemy – Asian Parosana
It’s a tiny creature, but the harm it did to the Georgian agriculture sector was and still is immense.
New cable route: from Kobi to Gudauri in 15 minutes
On the 15th of December, cable transport is scheduled to be opened connecting Kobi and Gudauri.
Tourist boom in Gudauri – majority of hotels are booked by foreigners
Gudauri is among the most popular winter resorts in Georgia.
Medical tourism increases in Georgia
In the last 9 months, Georgia was visited by 19 500 foreigners for medical and recovery purposes.
Doing business in Georgia has become easier than in America
According to the Doing Business 2019 report published by the World Bank, Georgia ranked 6th among 190 countries in terms of simplicity of doing business. This was an improvement over two ranks compared to last year.
Problems that foreigners frequently face in Georgia
The importance of Georgia as a tourism hub is growing year after year.
Tbilisi TV Broadcasting Tower – Better than the Eiffel Tower?
It is planned to renovate the Tbilisi TV Broadcasting Tower, one of the landmarks in the capital.
Georgian Fusion Menu by The Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi
5,895,914 international visitors have visited Georgia between January and August of 2018. Compared to the previous year the number has increased by 12.2 per cent.
Advertising of gambling and lucrative games may become banned in Georgia
Advertising of gambling and lucrative games may become banned in Georgia. Those who violate the new rule would be fined GEL 10 000.
Lebanese café-lounge Beirut opens in Tbilisi
What is necessary to organize an unforgettable event? – Fun, emotions, lots of surprises, good music and delicious menu.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
19.02.2019
20.02.2019
USD
1
USD
2.6404
2.6498
EUR
1
EUR
2.9908
2.9977
GBP
1
GBP
3.4130
3.4246
RUB
100
RUB
3.9898
4.0023
Other Stories
Recently Toyota rolled out Global Campaign under this slogan that reflects the Olympic and Paralympic Spirit of Encouragement,
A couple from Switzerland combines Swiss tradition and technology with Georgian products. Their cheese is made in the Georgian mountains and sold in local stores and hotels.
It has been more than five years since the residents of Lilo village, near Tbilisi, cannot open their windows.
63 000 GEL was received by the Georgian Agro Export Group which is just a small part of the European Neighbourhood Programme for Agricultural and Rural development.
Georgian entrepreneur Guka Tavberidze, who runs his own business in the UK and does it quite well, has been invited by BBC
The grand opening of 7-star The Biltmore Hotel Tbilisi took place in Georgia’s capital on July 31.
DUSHETI, Georgia – The Georgian government and the World Bank will allocate USD 5.6 million (12 million GEL) to fund
A new Georgian clothing brand named Person has emerged in Georgian market.
Georgia is in the midst of an economic maelstrom, Euronews reports.
Situation at Georgia’s mineral water market is interesting: over the last year, the volume of export has grown by 56 percent. According to “GeoStat”, over $114 million worth of mineral water was sold
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.6498
EUR
1
EUR
2.9977
GBP
1
GBP
3.4246
RUB
100
RUB
4.0023