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Energy Hero wins with DORDA – Austrian Supreme Court (OGH) confirms the legitimacy of automatically switching customers to the cheapest energy provider

Monday, 2 November 2020

Together with DORDA, Energy Hero prevailed against an energy supplier in preliminary injunction proceedings regarding four out of five claims. In particular, an energy supplier's attempt to exclude Energy Hero from acting on behalf of its customers when concluding contracts online was inadmissible.

Vienna, 2 November 2020 - The start-up Energy Hero, part of the Blue Minds Group, offers customers an innovative service: it compares available energy and gas rates and, based on a power of attorney, automatically switches its customers to the cheapest provider each year. The start-up acts completely independently, as it has no commission agreement with energy providers and can therefore fully commit itself to the needs of end customers. An energy provider now wanted to prevent this business model by arguing that, according to its tariff conditions, the (particularly cheap) online rates were only available to end customers who entered into the contract personally. In addition, during the contract process it had to be confirmed that no proxy is intervening by ticking a check mark. This practice is inadmissible, the Austrian Supreme Court decided.

Supreme Court agrees with DORDA's legal position
Under the leadership of Axel Anderl (partner), Bernhard Heinzl (attorney at law) and Alexandra Ciarnau (associate), Energy Hero argued that the requirement of personally entering into a contract is grossly disadvantageous for the end customer and that it has a negative impact on Energy Hero. This was confirmed by the Austrian Supreme Court: The exclusion of proxies is grossly disadvantaging to customers. The unenforceability of such a requirement has absolute effect and therefore does not allow the energy provider to prevent the conclusion of online contracts by Energy Hero on behalf of its customers.

Overall, Energy Hero has won in four out of five points over all three instances. The decision of the Higher Regional Court of Vienna, stating that Energy Hero must inform its customers in price comparisons that any customer discounts from the current supplier that have not yet been paid out or credited will not be taken into account, was left unchallenged by Energy Hero – since this is self-evident in the sense of transparency. Further, in the course of the main proceedings the start-up also committed itself to this in a settlement.

"We are happy that the Supreme Court has decided in favour of our customers. On a long-term basis, the regular comparison and change of energy suppliers creates attractive energy prices for households and companies," says Energy Hero managing director Eveline Steinberger-KernAxel Anderl, head of DORDA's IT/IP and Data Protection team and Digital Industries Group, adds: "This success is further evidence of our wide-ranging expertise in unfair competition law and in the representation of online platforms. Once again, we were able to rely on our Digital Industries Group and their multidisciplinary digitalisation expertise."

About Energy Hero
Energy Hero is one of the largest energy provider switching services in Austria. Almost 20,000 private costumers in Austria already use Energy Hero to regularly compare energy and gas prices. If there is a better tariff, Energy Hero automatically changes it and saves its customers considerable amounts of money per year. More information: www.energyhero.at

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