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Intellectual Property, Working with British Gas, a case study

Intellectual Property partner Simon Crossley shares his experience of working with British Gas.

Simon Crossley

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Simon Crossley, Partner, IP

Simon Crossley: As everyone knows British Gas is the largest energy supplier in the UK, it’s one of the big six. And it’s also part of the industry which is subject to the smart meter mandate. And what that mandate says in simple terms is by 2020 every single house in the UK has to have a smart meter. When we started working with British Gas in 2008 there were no smart meters, there was no money available to finance smart meters and there was no definition of what a smart meter was. All the Government said was ‘make it happen by 2020’. So we started working with British Gas in 2008 on the very early agreements to design, develop and procure smart meter technology and over the last seven or eight years that’s been one of Europe’s largest technology rollouts. And we’ve been involved at every point along the way in dealing with smart meter developers, smart meter procurement and distribution and the associated financing of those meters. If you can imagine you’re having to deploy 15 million meters across every single household in the country it’s quite a substantial financial undertaking. The Eversheds team worked hand-in-hand with British Gas throughout that process, a very complicated legal and regulatory process and we’re now at the stage in 2016 where the rollout has started, British Gas is ahead of the curve in terms of meeting that obligation and customers are now beginning to see smart meters in their households and being able to control their energy usage through that technology. From the British Gas perspective this is fundamental to their strategy to be the supplier of choice and I think from their point of view it’s been a real success. I think we’re a point of continuity in any organisation in which you have a project which lasts five years, six years, seven years, eight years you need a legal advisor to provide continuity of advice, standing shoulder to shoulder with the client to make sure all the contractual arrangements are consistent, appropriate and protect British Gas’s position. We’ve been that single point of contact throughout the programme and we have supported them on every aspect of it. And I think that’s provided real value to the client.