The collapse of Bohemia Energy (BE), which left around 900,000 customers searching for a new energy supplier, is likely to be followed up in court. Many former clients have already sued the company, they are seeking legal redress against BE, and they have hopes of getting compensation. The court could theoretically combine the legal proceedings into one. This would be a de facto “class action trial,” which does not officially exist in the Czech Republic. The largest group of Czech alternative energy suppliers had justified the sudden collapse by citing the extreme rise in global energy prices.
At the same time, the Pirates have published information that the owner of the company, Jiří Písařík, has attempted to transfer some of his properties worth hundreds of millions of crowns to virtual companies. The Municipal Court stopped the transactions in Prague with a preliminary order.
Pirate analyst Janusz Konieczny calls the actions a purposeful transfer of property. “The affected customers of Bohemia Energy may undoubtedly be entitled to compensation, and we have to defend their rights,” he said in a press release. Criminal investigators, he said, must closely monitor other efforts to transfer assets on purpose. “The Pirates’ analytical team has also mapped almost 100 claims of Bohemia Energy, and I have sent all the findings in a letter to the Chief Prosecutor’s Office,” Konieczny added.
The disappointed BE clients who want to sue the company have been offered a helping hand by LitFin, representing them legally. According to the firm, BE’s customers are likely to be entitled to compensation for the difference between the price they will have to pay for the energy provided from the new supplier and the price they would have paid if BE had complied with the contract.
However, the question is how the court will act in such a case. According to Czech law, the claims of victims must be examined individually. However, LitFin’s representative Jan Eisenreich claims that the court can combine different proceedings involving the same case into one. This creates a de facto situation called a “class action,” which does not exist in Czech law in Anglo-Saxon countries.
In any case, introducing a class action into Czech law is possible precisely because of the BE case. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) made a relevant announcement on his Facebook page on Sunday. “A criminal complaint is being prepared on behalf of the government, which will be filed and signed by Deputy Prime Minister (Karel) Havlíček,” Babiš said. His proposal has the support of the KDU-ČSL and the Pirates.