13 February 2013
Watson, Farley & Williams (“WFW”), a leading international law firm, is pleased to announce that with Professor Lazaratos of Athens University Law School, it has secured a fast-track pilot trial hearing at the Supreme Administrative Court in Athens to decide on the constitutionality of the exceptional 25% levy imposed by Law 4093/2012 on the income of operating photovoltaic (PV) plants. This means that WFW’s application to set aside the levy will be the only one on its particular facts to be argued before the Supreme Administrative Court, at a hearing whose outcome will have consequences for the entire PV sector. Other applicants have the right to join forces with WFW at the hearing if they so choose.
The Supreme Administrative Court accepted the application to try the matter under the recently-introduced pilot trial procedure due to the general application of the levy and the large number of PV developers who have been affected by the measure, which imposes a levy of between 25% and 30% on the monthly generation income of all PV projects built on the basis of tariffs awarded under previous legislation for two years, starting retroactively from 1 July 2012. A 10% levy on all renewable energy income from sources other than PV has also been imposed for the same period.
The arguments in support of the unconstitutionality of the legislation are varied and complex, but mainly focus on the validity of the measure as a form of taxation, as an unlawful interference in contractual freedom and the fact that it was imposed on a limited group of persons (renewable energy generators) to cure the energy market operator’s deficit for which the renewable sector was only partly, if at all, responsible.
Virginia Murray, head of WFW Athens, said: “Professor Lazaratos’s administrative litigation experience, combined with our lawyers’ detailed knowledge of the electricity market and administrative law together form a very strong team for the Supreme Administrative Court hearing. No outcome can be guaranteed, but we intend to put all the arguments forward for the benefit of the renewable energy generation sector as a whole.”