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Powers Cuts are costing me Money – Can I make a Claim Against Gibelec ?

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Please note that the contents of this article do not constitute legal advice from Signature Litigation or the GFSB and should not be relied upon or treated as a substitute for seeking separate and specific legal advice.


 Despite hopes that the LNG power plant would assist in meeting the energy demands of a growing local economy, power cuts remain frustratingly common. Only last week, we were affected by a Gibraltar-wide blackout said on this occasion to be the result of a cable interference by a local contractor, which halted trading at a crucial time of the working day. Those not protected by backup generators or other alternative power supplies were inevitably the worst impacted.

Members are naturally keen to understand whether it is possible to bring claims seeking compensation for business interruption caused by power cuts.


  1. Can I bring a claim for compensation under the Gibraltar Electricity Authority Act 2003? Whilst the Act provides for the payment of compensation by the GEA in certain circumstances, the GEA is not required to pay compensation to customers for any damage or financial loss arising from any interruption or discontinuance of the supply of electricity.
  2. Alternatively, can I bring a claim for compensation under the common law? A claim in respect of what is defined as a ‘pure’ economic loss (i.e. the loss of a potential gain or profit, or a wasted cost) will normally fall outside the range of economic loss which a court will be prepared to allow and is unlikely to be successful.

The position in the United Kingdom

Claims for compensation arising from unplanned power cuts in the UK may be brought in prescribed circumstances. Consumers’ rights in the UK are protected by a robust regulatory framework serving as a watchdog for energy companies falling foul of their obligations to customers.

If a power cut is a result of poor or extreme weather conditions, consumers left without power for a period of 24 hours or more may claim compensation totalling £70 with further sums capable of being claimed for every subsequent 12-hour period of outage up to a maximum of £700.

Customers may also entitled to compensation where power outages are a consequence of some other fault or reason (for example, mechanical/infrastructural issues). The amount payable by energy

In this case, a contractor (Martin & Co) carrying out work digging up a road negligently damaged an electric cable which it knew supplied power to a factory (Spartan Steel). Spartan had to dispose of molten metal out of their furnace to prevent damage to the furnace, which meant that the metal lost value and they suffered a loss of profit it was sold. They also lost profits from further work and production could have been undertaken had the power not been cut. The English Court of Appeal held that Martin & Co:

  • was liable for the loss of profit on the damaged metal of which it had needed to dispose (i.e. the consequential economic loss);
  • but that it was not liable for loss of profit suffered by Spartan in relation to the work and production which it had been unable to do because of the interruption (i.e. the pure economic loss).

The basic rationale for limiting the liability of Martin & Co was stated by the English Court of Appeal to be fundamentally one of public policy. The Court reasoned that:

  • if the law allowed recovery for all economic loss, the extent of liability in many situations would be enormous. In this case, the contractor who cut the mainline electricity cable would have been liable to a range of businesses whose trade had been interrupted as a result;
  • the contractor would have been bankrupted by needing to compensate all business affected by the power interruption arising from this single mistake and would have been forced to carry an excessive part of the risk associated with a socially useful activity which it carried on;
  • the effect of imposing such liability upon the contractor would deter the activity from being carried out at all.

The common law has therefore sought to protect defendants from being exposed to an unknowable scope of potential liability. The Court’s fear behind allowing claims for “pure economic loss” is that potentially unlimited claims could flood in. The Court has continued to have regard to these public policy considerations in cases involving public utilities and has limited the right to make claims for damages due to concerns that it may open the floodgates to litigation.


Applying the above legal principles to the current issue affecting Members, our view is that:

  1. a claim against the GEA under the Act is unlikely to be successful in light of the restriction on the GEA’s liability contained in Section 7 of the Act;
  2. a claim brought on the basis of a consequential economic loss may potentially be brought under common law rules but is unlikely to be successful given the restriction of liability contained in Section 7 of the Act;
  3. a claim in respect of a purely economic loss (i.e. loss of a potential gain or profit or wasted cost) will normally fall outside the ambit of the economic loss which a court will be prepared to allow and is also unlikely to be successful.

companies will generally depend on the severity of the power cut and the number of homes affected. In the case of single interruptions, providers have a period of 24 hours in which to restore supplies. Domestic customers may claim a sum of £75 and non-domestic customers (i.e. businesses) £150 for every subsequent 12-hour period of outage.

Can I bring a claim against the Gibraltar Electricity Authority under the Act?

Unfortunately, energy customers in Gibraltar do not enjoy this same protection.

The duties and obligations of Gibraltar’s sole provider of electrical power, the Gibraltar Electricity Authority (the “GEA”), are reflected in the Gibraltar Electricity Authority Act 2003 (the “Act”).

Section 9 of the Act sets out the duties owed by the GEA to customers and the obligations it is required to meet in the performance of its functions. Section 9(f) in particular imposes upon the GEA a duty to:

  • “minimise inconvenience and detriment” to customers as far as possible;
  • suitably and reasonably compensate customers for damage sustained “by reason or in consequence of the exercise by the authority of its duties”

Section 9(f) of the Act notionally allows for a claim to be brought against the GEA for damage arising from a negligent act which results in a customer experiencing “inconvenience and detriment”.

However, this right to compensation under section 9(f) of the Act is stated to be subject Section 7 of the Act which expressly precludes a legal claim being brought against the GEA in respect of:

….any injury, damage, or economic loss of inconvenience caused by or arising directly or indirectly from any interruption, defect, variation or discontinuance of the supply of electricity of from any break-down of or accident to the authority’s machinery or any other apparatus.”

The upshot is that a customer will not be able to pursue a successful claim for damages or compensation arising from an interruption to the electrical supply under the Act.

Can I bring a claim against the GEA under common law principles?

The English common law (which applies to Gibraltar) provides guidance and instruction as to the recovery of economic losses suffered by businesses in certain circumstances, including in relation to business interruption arising from power cuts.

Economic loss is, as a matter of law, divided into:

  • consequential economic Loss :- defined as loss arising directly from some physical damage or injury; and
  • pure economic loss :- defined as financial losses which do not result from any direct physical damage to a person or property. In essence, pure economic loss relates to loss of a potential financial gain or profit, or a wasted cost.

The approach of the English (and Gibraltar) courts both to “consequential” and “pure” economic losses is exemplified in the case of Spartan Steel & Alloys Ltd v Martin & Co (Contractors) Ltd, a 1973 English Court of Appeal case concerning the recovery of economic losses caused by negligence.


Please note that the contents of this article do not constitute legal advice from Signature Litigation or the GFSB and should not be relied upon or treated as a substitute for seeking separate and specific legal advice.

However, please feel free to contact our legal team at Signature Litigation if you have any questions about the work we do or would like to enquire about our services.

Paul Grant

Ben Pharoah


GFSB Members Express Frustration and Concern Over Ongoing Power Cuts

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GFSB Members have expressed their concern about the ongoing issue of regular power cuts, which are having a significant impact on their operations, costs of doing business and profitability.

Power outages have become an all-too-common occurrence, with many businesses experiencing frequent disruptions to their power supply. Power cuts such as todays can result in lost productivity, damaged equipment, and reduced customer satisfaction, all of which are impacting the bottom line of local businesses.

The situation is particularly concerning for small businesses, who do not have the resources to invest in backup power solutions or absorb the costs associated with lost revenue and equipment damage.  Power cuts have immediate and direct financial consequences for small business owners.  GFSB Members commented;

We rely heavily on the shop having power to accommodate our upwards of 20 clients per day. With the most recent outage we had to send 4 clients away with wet hair, which also costs us around £300 in lost revenue”. 

GFSB Member: Hairdressing and Beauty Sector

These sudden power cuts are happening too often and without warning.  This morning Main Street was full of tourists just off two cruise liners in port.  Some asked if this is a regular occurrence in Gib.  Others were hesitant to enter a dark shop.  My shop lost business to card paying customers as the broadband system was down.  I’m sure many other shops have lost business too.  I have another shop where we have 4g card machines, so at least those customers could pay by card.  I will now equip all our shops with 4g card terminals.   But this is an added unnecessary expense”

GFSB Member: Retail Industry

“On top loss of direct sales because we can’t finish, serve or sell out product, we suffer losses from having to dispose of half cooked food in our ovens.  Our equipment also regularly suffers damage from power cuts – today it was the fire alarm system that got damaged when power eventually returned. We will need to spend money to fix it.  At a time when the cost of produce and overheads are going up at a rate we simply can’t absorb or plan for, the continuing power cuts just rub salt in the wound.”

GFSB Member: Catering Industry

“As a small business owner, power outages have a significant impact on our day-to-day operations, causing a variety of problems, from lost productivity to lost revenue. Without power, my business comes to a complete standstill as we rely heavily on electronic equipment and computers. This not only causes missed deadlines, unhappy customers and lost revenue, but also damages our reputation with customers who depend on us. Even after power is restored, the disruption caused by outages can lead to a loss of productivity, low morale, and employee frustration. It is very hard to plan for and mitigate the effects of power outages, and the cost to invest in backup generators or uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) is too prohibitive for small businesses. I understand that power outages are a complex issue, but I believe that more can be done to mitigate their effects on small businesses like mine”

GFSB Member: Online Business Owner

“Without electricity, we cannot work on our systems, process orders, invoicing etc.. delays our days work and we have to retain workers where possible to work overtime at extra costs to our business, so we are able to deliver on commitments and not let our customers down.”

GFSB Member: Distribution Business


Press release ends.

GFSB Elections Wish list 2022/23

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We want to make Gibraltar an attractive place to do business, keeping costs and bureaucracy down as much as possible.

It needs to be easy for businesses to start and flourish.

We believe the Government can really help to encourage businesses which in turn help Gibraltar PLC.

Below we have gathered a wish list from members of things we would all like to see.



Social Insurance contributions.

Government to commit that there will be no further increases above inflation, and these to always be in July to tie in with the Tax Year and most companies’ financial year. To considerably lower the lowest threshold of SI contributions for those self-employed and part-time workers to promote employment within these categories, without the consequences of forfeiting the majority of the wage earnt to tax contributions.

No above-inflation increases to utilities or minimum wage.

A review of the import duty rates and guidelines.

Possibility of lower rates for local traders as opposed to personal imports on some retail items.

Simplify the whole process and unify rates significantly.

Gibraltar Business Nurturing Scheme.

This initiative is to be revived and rolled out within 3 months following the election.

The allocation of funds when granted to be provided in a reasonable time frame.

Small Business Board.

Reconvene the Small Business Board within 1 month following the election.

The BID.

The Government is to commit to the BIDs continuation in some form.


A UK-type database with second job earnings, donations, and gifts made to individual politicians and political parties.


All government procurement of goods and services to be via public tender with standard minimum timelines – an end to expressions of interest and extremely short periods of time within which to respond to invitations.

Make the tender process as transparent as possible. Particular consideration for conflicts of interest between civil service and those being awarded tenders.





Remove fees to register vacancies and new employees of a business.

A commitment that Employment Services fees will not rise further. Nor the introduction of further fees.

Business Licensing.

The implementation of the new Business Licensing / Fair Trading Act.

Reduce the bureaucracy and offer full online facilities.


To implement full online facilities for employment, corporate tax, PAYE and social insurance within a realistic timescale following the election. Already two elections have gone by and this is yet to be delivered.


This publication to be published online for free use by the public.

Implement an Open Government Licence for Gibraltar Laws, Gazettes and Gibraltar Case Reports.


The Governments One Stop Shop is still not in place and operational benefiting those in need of its support.

Too much-repeated paperwork hinders the current process. The Government to work with GFSB to make this facility fit for purpose and of benefit.

Public Service Standards.

Government to pay all monies owed to suppliers within 30 days of receipt of invoice.

Government to establish an acknowledgment (eg 3 days) and response time (eg 21 days) to all forms of correspondence.

Government to eliminate regulatory burdens on businesses through ‘zero-bureaucracy’ initiatives.

Improvement in standards across all Public Services. 

The Government to provide measurable statistics on Public Service Standards eg cost per transaction, user satisfaction, completion rate, and digital take-up.

Red Card Processing.

Reduce the inordinate current delay to obtaining a discretionary Red Card ID to a reasonable and dictated timeframe eg 4 weeks.




Taxi Service.

Open discussions with the GFSB in regard to improving the city taxi service.


Public transport.

Alternative methods of payment including the night bus service. Specifically by contactless payment. Exact money is discouraging use of residents and visitors. Extend daytime hours of buses to 23.00 (albeit to one per 1/2 hour) on the half hour from Bus Station.

Consider NIGHTTIME service from Bus Station at Midnight, 01.00 & 02.00 on a FRIDAY night and publicise the same.


Cycle Friendly.

More provision of bicycle racks to encourage the use of bicycles around Gibraltar.




Legitimate support for tourism businesses.

To work with the GFSB closely and reconvene The Tourism Board within 1 month following the election.

Double the Tourism Budget and spend it!

Tourism Tax.

Simplify the process, particularly for Landlords with multiple properties. Publicise the exemptions clearly. Use income SPECIFICALLY for Tourism by adding all the receipts to the Tourism Budget.

Long-term Tourism Plan.

Within 3 months of the election publish Long term 5 & 10-year professional strategic plan for tourism including a maintenance plan to ensure the continued upkeep of the tourism product; inclusive of Heritage sites and their preservation.

All points of entry to undergo regeneration and refurbishment to include signage for both pedestrian and vehicles.

Better road signage especially at all roundabouts and points of confluence.

Coach Park Terminal to have a full and comprehensive regeneration/beautification programme.



Better education and training in rehabilitation institutes to include vocational qualifications in essential skills

e.g. technology, plumbing, car mechanics, childcare, elderly care, hospitality, retail management, customer care etc


Press Release: Local property market resilient in the face of challenges

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The property market is facing new challenges as the outcome of the UK-EU agreement on Gibraltar is causing concern.

In an interview with David Revagliatte for the Gibraltar Business Podcast, Louis Montegriffo from BMI Group Estate Agents commented; “The biggest concern I’ve got, and most people have, is the agreement and the uncertainty it brings to the market. It’s funny, because politically in Gibraltar, we’ve had uncertainty for 300 years, and economically when we’ve developed our economy, we’ve had uncertainty from the ’90s into the 2000s, so there’s always been something. Historically, if we look at those hurdles we’ve had before, we’ve always come out of them well; but this one is slightly different.”

Louis notes a shift in demand and a trend towards owner-occupier driven properties, with increasing demand for larger properties such as large two, three, and four-bedrooms and large one-bedrooms. This shift in demand is seen as a positive sign for the local economy, as it reflects both Gibraltarians and expatriates investing in properties to live in, rather than purely for speculative purposes.

“These things change dramatically, but over the past couple of years, I think what’s come through in high demand has been owner-occupier driven properties, so larger properties. Not necessarily just two, three, or four bedrooms, also large one bedrooms, but I think it’s a great sign of how the economy is doing.”

While rising interest rates are also a source of concern for Mr Montegriffo, he feels Gibraltar’s property market can ride the storm, “If you went back to the last time interest rates were high back in 1990, the property market was annihilated, prices went down 50%, 60%, 70%. I’m not of the view that we’re going to see what happened in 1990, but I am of the view now that things are adjusting – the property market is plateauing. I think that’s a good thing, but the outcome of the agreement is the key.”

A full interview with Louis Montegriffo features in the latest season of the Gibraltar Business Podcast, brought to you by the GFSB. Listeners can find the podcast on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

For more information on the Gibraltar Business Podcast and upcoming episodes, visit the website at

David Revagliatte, Host
Gibraltar Business Podcast
Phone: +350 54059479

GFSB Earth Hour Initiative

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Earth Hour is on Saturday 25th of March at 8.30 pm.  Earth Hour is a global movement that seeks to raise awareness about issues such as climate change that affect lifestyles and work-practices. The event is held annually encouraging community, governments and businesses to turn off non-essential lights for an hour as a symbolic action to demonstrate commitment to a safer and healthier planet. Over the years it has seen the Pyramids, Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Majal, the Colosseum, Table Mountain and other key landmarks switch off their lights in support.

As we count down towards Earth Hour, the Gibraltar Small Business Federation (GFSB) is partnering with Prof Daniella Tilbury, to launch a 12-month series of initiatives that support the transition of Gibraltar business towards sustainability. These include; sector specific training workshops on sustainability; events involving international speakers and business strategists; podcasts and social media coverage to share examples of best practice from our membership; a Morocco-Gibraltar Business event amongst other initiatives still in development.

Prof. Daniella Tilbury, formed part of the WWF Australia Board and team that had established the movement in Sydney in 2007. Since then, Earth Hour has become the world’s largest grassroots effort for the environment, engaging millions of people across more than 190 countries and territories. You can learn more about the initiative at . Previous years has seen Gibraltar engage community groups, education and government stakeholders pledging their commitment to this agenda. In 2023-24 the focus will be on the circular economy and business transition.

The initiative will be launched 25th March 2023 with more details following shortly after about the sustainability initiative which will unfold over the next 12 months.   

Women In Enterprise launches Lean in Program at IWD breakfast.

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The GFSB Women In Enterprise group hosted a successful breakfast workshop at the Garrison
Library to mark International Women’s Day 2023. The event reflected the themes being
explored by many women and supportive men, across the Rock IWD once again gave the
opportunity to focus on the need for greater diversity, inclusion and dialogue surrounding
balance between the genders.
Opening the event, Minister Sacramento reminded those gathered that IWD has a long history
in Gibraltar and will continue to be marked until the balance between genders is visibly
addressed. Fiona Young then addressed the audience from a historical context, reminding
those gathered that human survival as a species depends on better allocation of tasks and
division of labour based on skill, ability and circumstance -rather than on contrived assumptions
about Gender. Stewart Harrison then inspired the audience with his explanation of the role he
has had in normalising gender harmony in cyber-space world, creating a new generation of
diverse coders, programmers and computer scientists. Rebecca Jackson then assisted the
participants to divide into small groups to experience the Lean-in methodology first hand. Giving
each other insights into questions such as “what would you do with an extra hour?” “what one
word would your friend use to describe you?” and “what advice would you give to your younger
self?”- helped the participants explore together their personal needs, approaches and
experiences in a way framed to build empathy, connection and understanding.
Michaela Rees and His Worship the Mayor then closed the event with heartfelt pleas to those
gathered to encourage others to join in the dialogue about diversity. His Worship the Mayor
identified that he was “preaching to the choir” referencing the almost exclusively female
audience. It was recognized that until the outstanding matters are discussed between the
genders and a diverse range of people actively engage together on addressing these matters,
the movement towards diversity will remain extremely slow, which holds the whole of the
community back.
The general conclusion was that there needs to be far greater opportunity for men and women
to work side by side tackling stereotypes, sharing domestic tasks and identifying and utilizing a
person’s key strengths -regardless of gender. While it is clear there is much more to be done
and a much wider audience to reach before hopes for change can become a reality, the event
cemented the understanding that an excellent starting point is honest discourse and connection
between colleagues and peers, both men and women. The GFSB and WIE will be providing
more information on how to receive training to create Lean in Circles in their workplace.
Anyone wanting more information about this, or becoming a member of the GFSB Women in

Enterprise, please email Georgie at

Gibraltar Business Podcast returns with Emma Jones, CBE

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Gibraltar Business Podcast returns with Emma Jones, CBE

The highly anticipated fourth season of the Gibraltar Business Podcast by the GFSB returns on March 21st, featuring an exclusive interview with Emma Jones, CBE. The podcast series is hosted by local communications and marketing professional David Revagliatte and aims to provide insightful discussions on the local business landscape and economic trends.

In the first episode of the season, listeners will have the opportunity to hear from Emma Jones, a respected entrepreneur and founder of Enterprise Nation, the UK’s largest community of small businesses. During her recent visit to Gibraltar, Emma shared her thoughts on the local business environment and her insights on the challenges faced by small businesses in today’s economy.

“Emma Jones is a highly respected figure in the business world, and we are thrilled to have her as our first guest for the fourth season. Emma is also the first international guest on the show,” said David Revagliatte, the podcast host. “Her expertise and experience in supporting small businesses will provide invaluable insights for our listeners. We are excited to kick off the new season with such a fantastic interview.”

Throughout the season, David will interview various guests, including local business owners, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. Listeners can expect to hear in-depth discussions on a wide range of topics, from innovation and technology to marketing and strategy.

The Gibraltar Business Podcast is brought to you by the GFSB and is sponsored by Gibraltar International Bank. Listeners can tune in to the podcast on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.

For more information on the Gibraltar Business Podcast and upcoming episodes, visit the website at


David Revagliatte, Host

Gibraltar Business Podcast


Phone: +350 54059479