Ask a lawyer – Can the municipality cut off services in a dispute?
HomeTimes received a lot of questions related to our story on a precedent-setting case in which it was determined that the onus of responsibility falls on the municipality to prove a customer’s bill is correct – and not the account holder.
Candidate attorney at Schindlers Attorneys, Rogan Heale, answers a reader’s question.
Interesting article. I have a question in principle based on this: If you query an account/reading can the municipality cut you off at that time? A friend of mine challenged her reading a couple of times before converting to pay-as-you-go and each time she was told to pay up or be cut off and that she can query it afterwards. Then when you query it afterwards they take forever to resolve it, if they resolve it at all. – LT Falconer
Dear LT, the courts have determined that it is unlawful for a municipality to terminate the supply of services if the customer has logged a dispute regarding the account in the appropriate forum for that municipality, and that dispute remains unresolved. In addition, the municipality must issue pre-termination notices prior to the termination of any services. If termination of services has occurred while a dispute is still ongoing, it may be an unlawful termination of services.