Millions could get compensation after being overcharged by water companies

MILLIONS of billpayers could get compensation from a new legal claim.
A case has been launched alleging that one of the UK’s largest water firms overcharged customers.


The class action claim alleges that eight million Severn Trent customers could be owed over £330million in compensationCredit: Getty

A legal claim led by professor Carolyn Roberts, an environmental and water consultant, alleges that Seven Trent under-reported pollution incidents and ended up charging more as a aresult.

Leigh Day, the law firm representing the professor, claims the water firms 8million customers are owed £330million compensation.
The number of pollution incidents a company reports to the regulator is an important factor in determining the price water companies can ultimately charge for their services.
Professor Carolyn Roberts argues that if the water companies had correctly reported the number of pollution incidents, performance penalties would have been applied.

This would have reduced how much customers were charged, she says.
Zoë Mernick-Levene, partner at law firm Leigh Day, said: “Not only is compensation being sought for millions of customers who have, and continue to, pay higher water bills, but we hope that it will also send a message to water companies that they cannot unlawfully pollute waterways and mislead their regulators without consequence.

“Customers put their trust in water companies, believing that they are correctly reporting these spillages and appropriately treating the sewage so it can safely be returned to the environment.”
The case is being brought as a collective action, similar to class action lawsuits in the US.

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Collective actions like this have the power to make a case for compensation on behalf of millions of consumers together, instead of each individual having to make a claim.
It means anyone affected – in this case Severn Trent customers – are automatically part of the case, and any compensation.

Leigh Day has filed the action at the Competition Appeal Tribunal, but any compensation is still a long way off as legal cases often take years.
A Severn Trent spokesperson said: “This is a highly speculative claim with no merit which we strongly refute.
“Should pollutions ever occur, they are always reported to the Environment Agency. Any claim to the contrary is wholly and completely wrong.
“Our regulators,  the Environment Agency and Ofwat, set strict targets …