‘ARMS Class Action’ group to submit court case over charges

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'ARMS Class Action' group to submit court case over charges“We, ARMS Class Action, are preparing to submit a case in the Maltese Courts on behalf of a significant number of EU residents in Malta who have been charged significantly more for their electricity and water because their Maltese residency is not accepted by ARMS on the basis of their Identity Cards and often, other supporting documentation.

In my own case, ARMS insisted that I obtain a Residence Certificate. This would not be provided unless I obtained a Health Certificate. Indirectly, this meant that ARMS required a Health Certificate. I objected strongly to my electricity tariff being dependent on a Health Certificate and not on the fact that I have been resident in Malta for many years.

Arms have written to say that they will now accept that I am resident based on my tax returns and Identity card but will not correct previous over charges. I am not sure whether their willingness to change the tariff without a Residence Certificate was because of the threat of court action or whether they genuinely admit that their application forms and procedures are wrong.

Our class action will seek to recover overcharges by ARMS to EU citizens resident in Malta.

We have been pursuing this issue at a European Union institutional level also, and last week the European Commission decided to send a letter of formal notice to Malta for incorrect application of the free movement Directive.

I understand that legal proceedings will follow. This should make the class action case stronger.”

James Parsons – ARMS Class Action – armsclassaction@gmail.com

The EU Commission follow-up reply is as follows:

From: Europe Direct <citizen_reply@edcc.ec.europa.eu>

Sent: Friday, 5 October 2012, 15:11

Subject: [Case_ID: 0671243 / 8432336] Discrimination of EU citizens utility bills

Thank you for your follow-up message.

After consultation with the responsible Commission department (the Directorate-general for Justice) we would like to inform you that the European Commission decided 27 September 2012 to send a letter of formal notice to Malta for incorrect application of the free movement Directive.

To benefit from reduced water and electricity tariffs, EU citizens residing in Malta need to submit specific residence documents – other means for proving their residence are not accepted by the MT authorities. By contrast, Maltese citizens need only to submit a copy of their identity card (and no proof of residence).

This discriminatory treatment is not in line with EU law and creates an unacceptable obstacle to exercising the right to free movement and residence. We thus take action to ensure that EU citizens are able to fully enjoy their rights.

Please consult the Commission decision at the following Commission website: http://ec.europa.eu/eu_law/eulaw/decisions/dec_20120927.htm#mt

We hope you find this information useful. Please contact us again if you have other questions.

With kind regards,

EUROPE DIRECT Contact Centre

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    9 Responses

    1. david reiling says:

      about time too..this discrimanation has to stop – ARMs and the Malti government have to be brought to book over this blatant abuse of its fellow EUropeans. The sooner the better.

    2. John Smith says:

      The discrimination hasn’t stopped though because many landlords are refusing to submit their tenants details to ARM Ltd as this makes them liable for placing a deposit with ARM Ltd in excess of €450 and requiring landlords to open themselves up to paying tax on their earnings, something many refuse to want to do!
      Those of us in these situations are still being screwed!

      • david reiling says:

        Hi John are you sure about the landlord having to place a deposit – as we have just moved and our landlord was not required to do this. There is a way to avoid that like we did as we were placed on the landlords account as registered consumers and thus no deposit is payable either by him or us.

      • John Smith says:

        Hi David. I will post below the exact response to my email when I contacted ARMS Ltd about this, obviously as I am not the landlord I am not fully aware of their obligations so I took the response from ARMs as being legitimate…….

        “Many times landlords prefer to stick to Domestic rates due to the paperwork involved in transferring the meter to the tenant temporarily (plus a refundable deposit of €466 kept by ARMS Ltd). Furthermore, this exposes them to taxation issues, since many landlords will then have their incomes from rent exposed.”

        “I think ARMS Ltd will accept applications from foreigners wishing to temporarily transfer the utility meters in their tenants’ names if have the support of their landlord. So it should only be a question of having a chat with your landlord and get him to accept this. But as I said, many landlords will not be happy about it.”

      • david reiling says:

        Oh My God… Absolutely amazing….. Please believe me we have not been asked for a deposit nor has my landlord….we dont have the utility account in our name – we simply applied to become registered consumers on our landlords utility account for the property…whether this exposes them to taxation is a completely different matter. I am an active member of a new group currently in its infancy called EU Citizens Against Discrimination (Malta)… and who are associated with the class action group – if you wish to get involved with fighting the cause please feel free to mail armsclassaction.com and they will pass your details on to me. Thanks.

      • david reiling says:

        John they are taking the micky – do the landlords really think that they are not exposed to tax if the account is in your name when you are renting…this is wrong on so many levels – you do not need to have the account in your name for sure….you only need to have you and your family named on the account as registered consumers and for that you only need the same as a malti resident consumer – you certainly do not need a residents certificate. Interestingly you are the second person in the last 3 days to be in the same position and been told that if you get refused a res cert (that by EU law you dont need) then the CEO of ARMs will make a discretionary decision….these people are shysters of the first order. Discrimination of the highest order by a Maltese company run by EU nationals / citizens imposing these conditions on equals i.e. on other EU nationals / citizens. DISGRACEFUL DISTASTEFULL AND DISCRIMINATORY. It really is that simple.

      • Ms P M Graham says:

        As far as I know it’s the tenant that pays a deposit of 466 euros and not the landlord. I say this as my Landlord just did the transfer to my name and I had to pay the deposit.

        After the transfer was concluded, I handed over the form, “Change in number of persons declaration” and was denied as my ID card carries an A. and if I wanted to apply for the reduced rates I had to submit a residency certificate. I then explained EU citizens exercising their right to free movement are not required to have a residence card and submitted documentation to that fact. I explained that initially when i moved to Malta that the Department of Citizenship told me that I did not require a certificate.

        The ARMS representative then told me to go back to the DoC and if I didn’t get a certificate, i should come back to them and they would talk to the CEO who under his discretion could/may grant me the reduced Tariff. Needless to say I am now infuriated as this now seems a lottery.

        ARMS are a law unto themselves. and enough is enough. i firmly support EU Citizens Against Discrimination (Malta)…

      • david reiling says:

        as a further comment John – but I dont agree with it – but it does at this point in time seem like the only way to get the reduced tariffs and not be subjected to the two tier robbery….as long as you have the residents cert (and they are relatively easy to get – within one week) we have had ours for over three years (we didnt know about them niot being required at the time) and believe it or not they expect you to prove everything all over again every time you move house – owner or renter. the whole thing is a farce and an illegal denial of your EU rights. The EU guys are definitley preparing the paper on this ( i have had personal confirmation from Mr Christian Bulzomi and Viviene Reding of the EU commission…to this effect….. and you are not alone .

    3. david reiling says:

      In other words – EU nationals are STILL being DENIED their EU RIGHTS – a disgraceful and disgusting state of affairs here in Malta and Gozo. The only answer to these landlords is to move to another landlord who is prepared to do the “right thing” …even if that means reducing the rentals to cover the discounts lost……however thats neither right nor proper..and I do not condone that at all….I do however know a few people who do exactly that. so as not to be cheated…….Alternatively name and shame the ones who are denying tenants their rights. maybe it needs estate agents to get on board with this and only advertise properties that will guarantee EU nationals their rights. So are there any estate agents out there with some integrity who would be willing to do exactly that..if so get in touch with armsclassaction@gmail.com we would love to talk to you and work together on this.

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