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Highest administrative-law court rules in dispute between Friesland Campina and Liander about the duty to connect to electricity networks

03-06-2020

On June 2, 2020, the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb), which is the highest administrative-law court in the Netherlands, handed down its ruling in the appeal proceedings on the dispute between Dutch dairy cooperative Zuivelcoöperatie Friesland Campina (hereafter: ZFC) and distribution system operator Liander.

The CBb came to the conclusion that the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) had correctly decided that Liander was allowed to refuse the requested connection, and to characterize the system of ZFC’s links as a network within the meaning of the Dutch Electricity Act. The court disallowed ZFC’s appeal against this decision.

The CBb has taken into consideration that, on ZFC’s business park, there are one or more links for energy distribution to which multiple end-users are connected (next to ZFC, as the owner, also FCN). For that reason, the system of links is characterized as a network within the meaning of Section 1, preamble and under i, of the Dutch Electricity Act.

The CBb has pointed out that, on the basis of case law and legal history, by the term “connection,” the Dutch Electricity Act means the physical links to the network. It has been established that ZFC had already been linked to Liander’s public distribution network through an AC5 connection. Therefore, ACM had correctly decided that Liander was not required to realize a new (i.e. second) connection for ZFC under Section 23 of the Dutch Electricity Act. The appeal has been disallowed.

Since Liander’s appeal was only against the grounds of the decision and not against the outcome, the CBb declared Liander’s appeal inadmissable because of a lack of sufficient interest in bringing proceedings.

This ruling is irrevocable.

The CBb’s ruling in this case, available at www.rechtspraak.nl (in Dutch)