Leuven group "We don't pay" wants to go to court over high energy prices
29 September 2022
A Leuven group named "Wij betalen niet" ("We Don't Pay", ed.) plans to start an "Energy Case", by analogy with the "Climate Case" (Klimaatzaak) or the "Housing Case" (Woonzaak) previously launched by other organisations. The group wants to look into different avenues to sue companies or governments because of today's high energy prices.
The "We don't pay" campaign was founded a month ago by a group of people from Leuven (Flemish Brabant province), who want to oppose the current high energy prices. Because they "cannot" pay the rising gas and electricity prices, they are not paying their suppliers. By their own account, tens of thousands of people have already responded to the call to join in.
Apart from this initial action, the group is currently looking into several options to take the legal route - along the lines of, for example, the "Climate Case" or "Housing Case". A first possibility is a lawsuit against energy producer and supplier Engie. "Legislation states that a concluded contract can be revoked in unforeseen circumstances", says Leuven-based Peter Terryn, inspirer of "We don't pay". "These are clearly unforeseen circumstances, so a court could respond to this."
The Flemish Housing Codex contains a quality guarantee, so the group also considers the possibly of starting legal proceedings against the Flemish government.
Another option would be a lawsuit against the federal government. The constitution states the "right to decent housing". That right, according to Terryn, is not sufficiently guaranteed by the federal government. Finally, the Leuven native refers to the Flemish Housing Codex, which also contains a quality guarantee, which Terryn says is not being respected in the current crisis. Hence, the group also considers the possibly of starting legal proceedings against the Flemish government.
Thursday evening, the Leuven-based group are staging a new action in their local pub Het Groot Ongelijk in the borough of Kessel-Lo. They will turn off the heating and electricity for 15 minutes. "This will have no impact on our individual bill, but is meant as a playful and low-threshold action," Terryn said.
© BELGA PHOTO SISKA GREMMELPREZ