A ruling declares the price review formula used by Gas Natural null and void
Comentamos a continuación la solución que hemos obtenido actuando este despacho como defensa a un problema que afecta a múltiples Comunidades de Propietarios.
Concretamente nos vamos a referir a contratos acordados por parte de Comunidades de Propietarios con Gas Natural, que obligan a permanencias por periodos excesivos de tiempo (más de 5 años), y que además han servido para que la comercializadora incrementase el precio de forma deliberada y abusiva.
La estrategia orquestada por este despacho ha permitido no sólo que la Comunidad de Propietarios afectada pudiese desvincularse del contrato sino que hemos conseguido una indemnización de más de 400.000 euros (incluyendo intereses y costas) a su favor por incremento injustificado de precios durante varios años.
En procedimiento judicial seguido en disputa frente a Gas Natural, la Audiencia Provincial de Madrid (Sec. 28ª) dictó el pasado 13 de julio de 2020 una sentencia pionera en la que declara nula la fórmula de revisión del precio de la energía contenida en el modelo de contrato de suministro suscrito por Gas Natural con las comunidades de propietarios demandantes.
La citada sentencia ha declarado nula e ineficaz la fórmula revisora del precio de la energía incluida en el contrato por falta de claridad. La califica de incomprensible al no expresar con la debida claridad las operaciones aritméticas que habían de aplicarse sobre determinados parámetros; de suerte que incidía en las causas de previstas en el art. 7 de la Ley de Condiciones Generales de Contratación. Según este precepto no quedarán incorporadas al contrato las condiciones generales que sean “ilegibles, ambiguas e incomprensibles”.
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The disputed contract had been signed in April 2008. It had indicated the old 3.4 rate as the reference rate to review the price of the variable part of energy. It had used an old unrepaired contract model that was no longer valid on the date it was signed. Said rate came from the regulatory regime established by the Hydrocarbons Law 34/1998 of October 7; After the promulgation of this Law, a natural gas tariff regime existed in Spain in which the Administration set the prices at which the supplying companies could bill their customers. There were several natural gas tariffs and one of them was 3.4. During the validity of this tariff regime, various revisions had been published in tariff 3.4 approved by resolutions of the Ministry of Industry.
This tariff system was maintained until the modification of the Hydrocarbons Law by Law 12/2007 of July 2 to accommodate Directive 2003/55/CEE of the Parliament and the Council of June 26 on common rules for the internal market of natural gas. Through this regulatory reform, the tariff system in force until then disappeared in our country. Thus, free competition was introduced in the natural gas sector, leaving the price of this energy source liberalized.
In the disputed contract it was established that in the event that there is no agreement between the parties to repeal the reference rate, the unit price of energy would have to be reviewed by applying of a polynomial formula devised by Gas Natural.
The Provincial Court has declared in the commented ruling, against the thesis defended by Gas Natural, that the old rate 3.4 was repealed on June 30, 2010< /strong>. The subsequent tariff of last resort (T.4) implemented after the legislative change was not a redenomination of the tariff 3.4 but a new and different tariff.
As a consequence of this, Gas Natural should have applied the price revision formula agreed in the contract from the moment the service contract was signed between the parties. By declaring the review formula in question null and void, Gas Natural has been ordered to repay the communities of claimant owners all the amounts paid above the price agreed in 2008, plus their legal interests, since all the price increases applied were improper.
The interest of this precedent lies in the fact that the review formula annulled by the Provincial Court of Madrid is the one that has been appearing in the usual model of contract signed by Gas Natural with its clients.
- It is possible to terminate the contract initially agreed upon by the Communities of Owners with Gas Natural, or with any other energy supplier, when an excessive duration of the contract has been established that prevents the Community of Owners from going to the competition.< /li>
- Gas Natural has frequently and deliberately altered the prices initially agreed with the Communities of Owners. There is now a jurisprudential precedent that declares invalid the criterion used unilaterally by Gas Natural to apply the aforementioned price increases.
- It is possible to claim the refund of the amounts unduly received by Gas Natural in application of the price increases practiced. These are generally relevant amounts due to the high amount of the repeated increases applied to the price agreed in the contract.
- This pioneering sentence points to a solution that can be used by the Communities of Owners that are in a similar situation. However, the determination of the specific strategy for each case must be analyzed individually, requiring the provision of evidence and appropriate expert reports depending on the case.
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Gas Natural is forced to return more of 400,000 euros to two communities of owners for the improper collection of supply fees