Home Insulation & Energy Systems (HIES) has announced that it is taking legal action against the Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) Service Co Ltd, due to the latter’s decision to mandate all its registered installers to join its commercial partner Renewable Energy Consumer Code (RECC).
According to the HIES, the change is anti-competitive behaviour and an abuse of a dominant market position. It took place as part of a decision to change MCS 001-1 – a standard set by the company that covers requirements of MCS Contractors at an organisational level.
This was changed to include the necessity for MCS installers to be part of RECC on 22 June, in a move dubbed by HIES as “in breach of anti-competition laws", continuing to state it is "detrimental to installers, and will leave consumers at a disadvantage".
HIES has set out its legal challenge in a letter to its members, announcing it has instructed lawyers to write to MCS asking it to withdraw the change to MCS 001-1 – listed as issue 4.0 – and to instead immediately reinstate the previous requirement for MCS approved installers.
Before this change, installers just had to be a member of a relevant code of practice approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI). HIES has stressed in the letter that this system should continue, and that other CTSI approved Consumer Codes being prevented from entering the market should not be allowed by a non-government organisation.
Currently, it states that it has not sufficiently heard back from MCS to satisfy these requests.
It has advised its members to take no further action at the moment, but to make the company aware if MCS or RECC contacts them about the legal challenge. Membership of any relevant CTSI approved Consumer Code will still be compliant until 31 March 2023, after which time they must have RECC membership, meaning immediate action does not need to be taken by installers.
HIES is considering making a formal complaint about MCS’s “anti-competitive conduct” to the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) and Ofgem, asking them to investigate the move.
“If MCS were allowed to continue with their plans, then this would prevent competition and availability and choice for installers and consumers in relation to consumer codes as a condition of certification by MCS,” reads the letter.
It was announced in December that RECC membership is to be integrated into the MCS, with the aim of integrating consumer code membership and MCS certification to increase awareness for consumers and reduce costs for installers.
MCS is planning to comment on the challenge later today.