The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission is set to amend its regulations on settlement of disputes in the energy sector by its tribunal, specifying fees for the job.
In the draft Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission Dispute Settlement Regulations-2017, the commission has categorised the rates of fees in 10 different groups in terms of amount of money involved in a dispute in the energy sector, said officials.
The amount of fees set out in the draft regulations would discourage common people from seeking justice in the disputes which involve small amount of money, they said.
On March 12, the BERC issued a letter seeking opinion on the draft regulations from different stakeholders including power, energy and mineral resources ministry, law ministry, Consumers Association of Bangladesh, business bodies, academics, law enforcement agencies and its licensees.
According to the draft regulations, a claimant will have to deposit Tk 15,000 in advance in the energy commission for settlement of a dispute involving up to Tk 10 lakh.
The respondent would share half of the fees if both the parties agree to proceed with the arbitration.
Fees have been proposed at Tk 2 lakh for settlement of a dispute involving more than Tk 200 crore.
The energy commission, however, may change the rates of fees time to time.
No fees are specified in the current regulations which were published in a gazette notification on April 20, 2016, said officials, adding the commission has now set fees for dealing with every specific case.
Shamsul Alam, an electric engineering professor and energy adviser of the Consumers Association of Bangladesh, said that it was an anti-people move as the fees might discourage people from seeking justice.
He criticised the energy commission for its motive for earning money from justice seekers and said that the move [setting rates of fees] was unlawful.
He demanded that the expenses for legal proceedings at the BERC tribunal should be defined in line with the expenses for traditional legal proceedings at other courts.
The three-member tribunal’s chairman, Salim Mahmud, declined to comment on the matter.
In the draft regulations, the energy commission has
also brought in a few other changes in authority and duties of the tribunal.
According to the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Act- 2003, the energy commission is entitled to settle disputes between utilities, between one or more utilities and one or more consumers and between consumers in the energy sector.
In the March 12 letter, the energy commission requested stakeholders to send their opinions in writing by March 28, 2017.
The commission would also consider the opinion of any other individual as the draft regulations have been published on its web site.
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