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The Administrative Regional Court terminated the judicial proceedings in the administrative case initiated by AS “Latvijas Gāze” regarding the Regulations on the use of natural gas transmission system and the natural gas underground storage facility in Inčukalns.
The court decision means that the Regulations issued by the Regulator are fully in force and AS “Latvijas Gāze” shall ensure free third party access to the gas infrastructure, including transportation of natural gas from alternative sources outside Latvia.
On 10 September 2015, the Public Utilities Commission approved the Regulations on the use of AS “Latvijas Gāze” natural gas transmission system, as well as the Regulations on the use of AS “Latvijas Gāze” natural gas underground storage facility in Inčukalns. The Regulator’s obligation to approve such Regulations derives from Article 15(7) of the Energy Law, whereas AS “Latvijas Gāze” obligation to ensure third party access to gas infrastructure is provided in Article 42.1 of the Energy Law, and is implemented on the basis of the European Union legal framework prescribing opening of the gas market. In the opinion of AS “Latvijas Gāze”, the Regulator has exceeded its competence by adopting the Regulations. Therefore the Regulations illegally ensure third party access to its infrastructure, thus infringing the exclusive rights to trade with natural gas guaranteed by the privatization agreements.
On 17 November 2015, the court of first instance decided to grant injunction in the case; however, following the appeal by the Public Utilities Commission the Supreme Court overruled this decision and declined AS “Latvijas Gāze” request for injunction. The Supreme Court has also joined the Regulator’s view that the Regulations on the use of gas infrastructure are normative acts rather than administrative acts and the legality of these Regulations may be reviewed only by the Constitutional Court.
Legal support to the Public Utilities Commission was provided, as well as the Public Utilities Commission was represented in the court proceedings by TGS Baltic partner Linda Štrause and associate Māra Stabulniece.
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