Judge slams British Gas’ challenge as Bulb judicial review fails

  • Judge rules claimants unsuccessful on all grounds
  • Challenge rejected on both timing and substance of claims
  • Court finds Octopus Energy paid fair value in open and competitive process
  • Questions cast over behaviour and claims of complainants
  • Key claims “disingenuous” and “not appropriate,” says Judge

The Court unequivocally found that the Government received fair value for Bulb following an open, non-discriminatory and competitive process.

London, 31st March 2023 – Octopus Energy Group today welcomes the Judge’s decision to throw out the judicial review brought by British Gas regarding the Bulb acquisition.

After a lengthy legal process, the Judge today rejected the claims brought by British Gas and other legacy companies in a crushing judgement.

The Judge also noted there had been "very substantial" and "much more" disclosure by the Government, Administrators and Octopus than would normally have been expected in this kind of hearing – and the Court reached clear conclusions on the facts.

The judgement confirmed the cost of Bulb was “a fair reflection of the value which the market placed on Bulb’s business in the prevailing circumstances” (253).

The judgement contained many damning findings about the claimants’ claims. See extracts below:

  • Disingenuousness: “Each of the Claimants issued an application for urgent consideration by the High Court stating that it was first appreciated that an urgent application might be necessary only on 24 November 2022. We regard that as disingenuous.” (139)
  • Case found to be without merit: In response to the allegation that the M&A Process was unlawful because it did not comply with Article 303 of the TCA, the Judge concluded, “we are satisfied that the allegation is without merit.” (265)
  • Inappropriate criticism:[...] For example it was submitted that the SoS [Secretary of State] failed to have regard to the options of splitting the customer book across multiple energy suppliers. This is wrong as a matter of fact but, in any event, it is the kind of criticism which it is simply not appropriate to make in the context of a judicial review of this kind.” (203)

Other comments made by the Judge include:

inappropriate” (120.cxxi, 195); “wrong as a matter of fact” (203); “we do not accept that submission” (244); “BGT’s submission that the JEAs have no particular experience in transparency and fairness rather misses the point” (247); “we reject the Claimants’ contention [...]” (253.ii); “we reject BGT’s contention that there was unfairness” (253.iii); “there is nothing in this point” (256); “we are satisfied that this argument is without merit” (265).

Concluding: “We have had regard to everything that has been set out both in writing and at the extensive hearing before this Court but we have reached the clear conclusion that none of the public law grounds of challenge advanced on behalf of the Claimants has any arguable prospect of success. For that reason, quite apart from the issue of undue delay, we would refuse permission to bring this claim for judicial review on those public law grounds” (205).

Greg Jackson, CEO and Founder of Octopus Energy Group says:

“The judgement couldn’t be clearer: Octopus paid fair value for Bulb through a transparent and competitive process, giving the best available deal to taxpayers. There were no improper subsidies and the case brought by British Gas and their stablemates was entirely without merit.

“This belated and expensive Court action has always smacked of desperation – and today’s finding confirms that. Octopus worked hard to find a solution, while others chose not to bid.

“Fair play won. After more than a year of uncertainty, it’s a huge relief for Bulb’s employees and customers and good news for taxpayers.

"We’ll continue to relentlessly innovate to create a cheaper, cleaner energy system and better service for customers.

“Looking at the records of some of these companies, it’s clear they’d be better businesses if they focused on putting their own houses in order.”

Octopus has raised over £1bn in financial backing from global investors, energy groups and pension giants. These backers include some of the largest funds in the world, who have around a trillion dollars under management.

And through its tech platform Kraken, it has done more large-scale customer migrations than any other company - with over 1 million Bulb customers migrated in record time and 40 million accounts licensed worldwide.

Octopus has been Which? Recommended 6 years in a row, and won more awards for service and innovation than any other energy company. It is highly rated on Glassdoor and one of the Top 5 “Best Companies To Work For”.


Notes to editors

You can find the full judgement here.

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About Octopus Energy Group

Octopus Energy Group is a global energy tech pioneer, launched in 2016 to use technology to unlock a customer focused and affordable green energy revolution. With operations in 14 countries, Octopus Energy Group has a truly global reach.

Octopus’s domestic energy arm already serves 5.1 million customers with cheaper greener power, through Octopus Energy, Bulb, Affect Energy, Ebico, London Power and Co-op Energy. Octopus Electric Vehicles is helping make clean transport cheaper and easier, and Octopus Energy Services is bringing smart products to thousands of homes. Octopus Energy Generation is one of Europe’s largest investors in renewable energy, managing a nearly £6 billion portfolio of renewable energy assets across the globe.

All of these are made possible by Octopus’s tech arm, Kraken Technologies, which offers a proprietary, in-house platform based on advanced data and machine learning capabilities. Kraken automates much of the energy supply chain to allow outstanding service and efficiency as the world transitions to a decentralised, decarbonised energy system. This technology has been licensed to support 30 million customer accounts worldwide, through deals with EDF Energy, Good Energy, E.ON energy and Origin Energy.

In December 2021, Octopus Energy Group was valued at approximately $5 billion following investments from Generation Investment Management and Canada Pensions Plan Investments Board. Both investors back businesses that drive sustainability, promote green energy and tackle climate change. These were the company’s third and fourth major investments since launching to the market.

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