8 June 2016
In a decision issued on 6 June 2017, the Market Court prohibited any reference by Finkraft Oy to changes in the market price of electricity or in the company's operating costs as grounds for the price increase in ongoing electricity contracts, unless the said changes are actually at least similar in scale to the price increase imposed on consumers.
During 2015 and again at the turn of the year 2016/2017, the Consumer Ombudsman received notices from consumers reporting that Finkraft Oy had increased the price of ongoing electricity contracts in such a way that the price increases imposed on consumers had been approximately 16–76%. Finkraft Oy claimed that price increases were necessary due to changes in the market price of electricity and the company's operating costs.
The Consumer Ombudsman was of the opinion that Finkraft Oy had made unilateral and material changes to consumer electricity contracts and started proceedings in the Market Court for a resolution to the case on 13 September 2016. The Consumer Ombudsman demanded that the Market Court prohibit Finkraft Oy from unilaterally increasing the agreed consumer price in ongoing electricity contracts on the basis of changes in the market price of electricity or in the company's operating costs in such a way that the agreement price increases materially.
In addition, the Consumer Ombudsman further requested the Market Court to prohibit any reference by Finkraft Oy to changes in the market price or operating costs as grounds for price increases, unless the company is able to prove that the said changes are at least similar in scale to the price increase imposed on consumers.
According to the decision issued by the Market Court, Finkraft Oy had changed the price in ongoing electricity contracts in violation of the Electricity Market Act referring to changes in the market price of electricity or company's operating costs, even though the company had not shown that its operating costs would have changed accordingly. Since the Market Court considered the price increase ungrounded as such and prohibited such illegal practice in its decision, in this case it was not necessary to estimate whether the changes would have been material if there had been justified grounds for them.
To make the injunction more effective, the Market Court imposed a penalty payment of EUR 100,000.
The Market Court's decision is not legally valid and can be appealed against in the Supreme Court of Finland. The time limit for seeking permission to appeal against the decision and filing the appeal will expire on 7 August 2017.
Read more: Consumer Ombudsman takes Finkraft Oy to Market Court for increase in electricity contract prices (The FCCA's press release of 14 September 2016)