Customer Complaints Area


SWAZILAND ENERGY REGULATORY AUTHORITY

POLICY ON THE RESOLUTION OF COMPLAINTS AND DISPUTES AND A GUIDE FOR COMPLAINANTS

(In Terms Of Section 21 and 40 of the Electricity Act, 2007)

 

1.0       INTRODUCTION

The Authority is established in terms of the Energy Regulatory Act of 2007 to regulate the electricity supply industry in Swaziland by issuing licensees, specifying the duties of licensees, setting tariffs and resolving disputes between licensees or between licensees and their consumers in terms of the Electricity, Act, 2007.

2.0       DEFINITIONS

In these by-laws unless the context otherwise indicates, a word or expression defined in the Act has the same meaning, and

“Act” means the Energy Regulatory Act No. 2 of 2007;

“Authority” means the Energy Regulatory Authority established in terms of section 3 of the Act;

“Arbitration” means the proceedings contemplated in section 40 of the Electricity Act, 2007;

“Complaint” means a complaint by a licensee or by a consumer to a licensee

“Dispute” means a dispute between licensees, or between licensees and their customers;

“Mediation” means mediation proceedings contemplated in terms of section 40 of the Electricity Act;

“Party” means a party to a dispute.

 

3.0       PURPOSE

The Policy outlines the procedures the Authority will generally follow when dealing with a complaint or dispute which it has been requested to determine.  The procedures in this policy apply in addition to any procedural requirements set out in the relevant legislation or licences.

 

4.0       DISPUTE RESOLUTION POWERS

The authority has the following dispute and complaints resolution powers in terms of section 21 read with section 40 of the Electricity Act, 2007:

  • Make guidelines relating to the relationship between licensees and consumers;
  • Codes of business practice and ethics;
  • Arbitrate in disputes between licensees or between a licensee and its consumer
  • To act as a mediator in any matter in respect of which a licensee or consumer request the Authority to act as such;
  • To appoint a suitable person to act as mediator or arbitrator;
  • To prescribe by rule in the gazette the procedures to be followed and mediation and arbitration fees to be paid.

 

5.0       APPLICATION

This policy applies to complaints and disputes between licensees or between licensees and their consumers.

6.0       SUBMITTING A COMPLAINT OR DISPUTE

  1. In order for the Authority to properly consider a complaint or a dispute, the applicant shall comply with  the following:
  • The complaint or dispute must be in writing addressed to the Authority
  • Identify, by providing their names and contact details:
    • The person or body which is requesting that the Authority make a determination of a complaint or a dispute, or the person or body on whose behalf it is acting in relation to that complaint or dispute (the Applicant); and
    • The person or body about whom the complaint is made, or with whom the Applicant is in dispute (the Respondent);
    •             Identify the provision within the legislation, licence or other document under which the Authority is being requested to consider the complaint or dispute.
  • Be accompanied by:
  • Detailed information and supporting evidence regarding the basis of the complaint or dispute and the manner in which the Applicant is affected by it; and
  • Where the complaint or dispute involves any disputed question of law, detailed legal submissions which identify the relevant issue of law and explain why the Applicant considers that it should be determined in favour of the Applicant.
  • Provide documentary evidence that the matter has previously been raised with the Respondent without reaching an agreed outcome.
  • Submitted in hard copy, facsimile transmission or e-mailed electronic form to the contact listed in Section 10 of this Policy.

 

2. Within seven days after having received an Application, the Authority will acknowledge receipt to the Applicant.

 

3. Following acknowledgement of receipt, the Authority reserves the right to treat an Application as not having been properly made for the purposes of the relevant legislation where it does not comply with the Requirements.  In such cases, the Authority may reject the Application and require the Applicant to submit a new Application which fulfils the Requirements.

 

7.0       DECISION ON JURISDICTION

  1.  Following receipt of an Application which has not been rejected on the basis that it was not properly made, the Authority will consider if it has the legal capacity to determine the complaint or dispute.

 

2. Where the Authority decides that the complaint or dispute is not within its jurisdiction, it:

  • Will reject the Application and inform the Applicant, giving reasons for its decision; and
  • May advise the Applicant that it considers the matter is best dealt with:
  • By an alternative body; or
  • Under an alternative legal mechanism.

 

3. Where the Authority considers that the complaint or dispute is within its own jurisdiction, transfer the complaint or dispute to a committee established for the purpose for a determination.

 

4. The Authority may, during any period in which it is awaiting a decision from the Committee as to jurisdiction take any steps set out at Section 8 of this Policy which fall prior to issuing the draft determination in relation to the complaint or dispute.

 

5. The Authority will, in a case in which the Committee has determined that the complaint or dispute is within the Authority’s jurisdiction, take such steps set out at Section 8 of this Policy as the Committee requests it to take.

 

6. In all cases in which the Authority decides that the complaint or dispute is within the Authority’s jurisdiction, it will proceed in accordance with Section 7 to 9 of this Policy.

 

7.The following types of complaints  shall be deemed to fall within the Authority’s jurisdiction:

Billing and Payment Issues

    • Billing
    • Disconnect notice
    • High bill
    • Payment arrangements
    • Service termination
    • Deposit
    • Charges
    • Taxes
    • Other

Quality of service Issues

  • Meter testing
  • New service connection
  • Service outage
  • Service appointment
  • Trouble report
  • Equipment
  • Service interruption
  • Service personnel
  • Other

 

8.0       TIMETABLE FOR ACCEPTED APPLICATIONS

1. In respect of a dispute or complaint which falls within the scope of the Authority, the Authority will issue its final determination within:

  • Two months of receiving the Application; or
  • Four months of receiving the Application where the Authority considers that it is necessary to request further information or evidence from the Parties in order to assist its consideration of the matter; or
  • Any such longer time period as may be agreed by the Applicant.

 

2. In respect of a dispute or complaint which falls outside the scope of this policy, the Authority will endeavour to issue its final determination on the matter as quickly as is practicable, and in particular will seek to do so:

  • Within two months of receiving the Application; or
  • Within four months of receiving the Application where the Utility Regulator considers that:
  • It is necessary to request further information or evidence from the Parties in order to assist its consideration of the matter; or
  • An extension of time is required in furtherance of its statutory obligations, powers, or objectives; or
  • By such later date as the Authority considers appropriate to ensure the proper determination of the matter.

9.0       PROCEDURE FOR ACCEPTED APPLICATIONS

1.In certain cases, the Authority has the power to refer complaints or disputes for determination by an arbitrator in lieu of the Authority.  In such cases, the Authority would expect to exercise this power as soon as possible after deciding that the complaint or dispute is within the jurisdiction.

 

2. The Authority will, where it considers it appropriate, conduct a preliminary review to establish whether the complaint or dispute is one which can be resolved to the satisfaction of the Parties without the need to engage in a formal determination process.

 

3. Where a formal determination process is required, the Authority will as soon as practicable issue to the Parties a notice which outlines the procedure that it proposes to follow for the purpose of determining the complaint or dispute (the Notice).  The Notice will specify where appropriate the date by which the Authority intends that each stage of the procedure should be completed.

 

4. The Notice may incorporate requirements on the Parties to take specified actions – for example, to submit evidence or representations (Submissions) – and to do so by certain specified times.

 

5. The Parties must comply with any requirement contained in the Notice.

 

6. The Authority may, at any time prior to making a final determination, by notice to the Parties amend any part of the Notice, including in particular by varying the time by which certain stages of the procedure or requirements of the Parties are to be completed.

 

7. The Authority may decide to consolidate two or more complaints or disputes for the purpose of considering and determining them together if those complaints or disputes are submitted to the Authority at approximately the same time and:

  • Relate to the same or similar subject matter; and/or
  • Raise the same or similar issues of law; and/or
  • Involve one or more of the same Parties

 

8. Where it decides to consolidate one or more complaints or disputes, the Authority will inform all the Parties as soon as practicable that it has done so, and inform them of the effect of the consolidation on the procedure to be followed.

 

9. In certain cases, the Authority has the power to order the Parties to pay some or all of its costs of determining the complaint or dispute (a Costs Order).  Where the complaint or dispute is one in respect of which this power is available, the Authority will draw that fact to the attention of the Parties at an early stage (which in most cases will be at the time it issues the statement as to the procedure that it proposes to follow.

 

10. The Authority will ordinarily consider each complaint or dispute on the basis of written submissions by the Parties

 

11. The Authority will:

  • Ensure that the Submissions of one Party are shared with all the Parties; and
  • Invite each Party to comment on the Submissions of each other Party.

 

12. The Authority may;

  • Where a Party has commented on another Party’s Submissions, allow the Party which made the original Submission an opportunity to respond to those comments; and
  • Invite the Party who made the comments to further comment on any such response.

 

13. The Authority may direct that any Party enters into a legally binding agreement with any other Party to treat the Submissions of that other Party as confidential to the complaint or dispute, and oblige that Party not to disclose the submissions or any details of them to any third person.

 

14. The Authority may invite the Parties to respond to questions or observations of the Authority.

 

15. Where it considers it necessary to do so, the Authority will have recourse to any applicable legal powers to raise formal information requests in order to obtain additional information or evidence.

 

16. If a Party has not complied with a requirement to make Submissions by a specified time, the Authority reserves the right not to accept any Submissions made after that time and to proceed to determine the complaint or dispute on the basis of the Submissions made in compliance with the Authority’s requirements.

 

17. The Authority may at any time invite the Parties to comment on the accuracy of any document prepared by the Authority which summarises the facts relevant to the complaint or dispute or the representations made by the Parties.

 

18. In a case where it considers it appropriate to do so, the Authority may decide to allocate to different representatives of the Authority:

  • The responsibility for all the procedural stages up (but not including) the preparation of a draft determination (Case Management); and
  • The responsibility for making the draft and final determinations (Decision Making)

 

19. Where the Authority allocates these responsibilities to different representatives, those responsible for Case Management will:

  • Be responsible for compiling a bundle of relevant and material Submissions, and preparing a summary of the key facts relevant to the complaint or dispute and of the representations made by the Parties;
  • Disclose the summary and a list of the documents in the bundle to the Parties, invite the Parties to comment on their respective accuracy and completeness within a period considered appropriate by the Authority of up to 10 working days, and take into account any comments received;
  • Provide the bundle and the summary (subject to any revisions made following the comments of the Parties) to those responsible for Decision Making.

 

20. Where the Authority considers it appropriate, it may call for a hearing at which the Parties, and any other select invitees (by Authority invitation only) may be invited to:

  • Give oral evidence; and/or
  • Make oral representation; and/or
  • Respond to questions and issues raised by the Authority.

In such cases, the Authority will inform the Parties in advance of the hearing of the procedure that it intends to follow at the hearing.

21. In all cases, the Authority will ensure that, prior to the making of the final determination:

  • There is issued to both Parties a draft determination, which includes:
  • A summary of the key facts of the case;
  • A summary of the Parties’ principal representation; and
  • The Utility Regulator’s preliminary assessment of the merits of the case.
  • The Parties are invited to make comments for consideration by the Authority within a period considered appropriate by the Utility Regulator of up to 10 working days in relation to:
  • The accuracy of the summaries of the facts and representations in the draft determination; and
  • Any matters of law arising in relation to the draft determination.

10.0     PUBLICATION

  1. The Authority supports transparent and open regulation.  In accordance with its statutory duties, the Authority’s decision regarding any dispute or complaint shall be published on the appropriate public register.

 

2. The Authority may, and in certain cases has a legal duty to publish a notice stating the reasons for its determination of a complaint or dispute.  Where it does publish a notice, it will do so in such a manner as the Authority considers appropriate for the purpose of bringing the matters to which the notice relates to the attention of persons likely to be interested.

 

3. In making a decision as to whether to publish its reasons the Authority will have regard to the need for excluding any matter which would, or might, seriously and prejudicially affect the interests of an individual or body.

 

 

11.0     CONTACT DETAILS

Further information regarding this document or applications regarding a particular dispute or complaint, should be directed to the Chief Executive Officer:

Physical Address:      Swaziland Energy Regulatory Authority

First Floor, RHUS Office Park

Karl Grant Street

Mbabane, Swaziland

Postal Address:          Swaziland Energy Regulatory Authority

                                    P O Box 7137

                                    Mbabane

                                    Swaziland

Telephone:                 +268 2404 2103

                                    +268 2404 8425

Fax:                            +268 2404 8474

                                    +268 2404 8384

Email:                         info@sera.org.sz/complaints @sera.org.sz

Website:                      www.sera.org.sz



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