The judges: orders for payment issued by Acea Ato 5 are legitimate
The orders for payment issued to customers by Acea Ato 5 for late payments are legitimate, and water supply contracts do not necessarily have to be in writing.
These two notions have been reiterated numerous times by judges called to deliberate on the legitimacy of measures taken by Ato 5. To be clear, this does not mean that if a customer requests a new water supply connection, they will not have to sign a contract: on the contrary, Acea Ato 5 will provide all new customers with informative documents and a contract to sign. The decision in question, obviously, refers to prior or existing water supplies, transferred tout court to Acea Ato 5 by Municipalities, Consortia or third-party providers when Acea Ato 5 was awarded the supply contract.
Judges have reiterated and clarified in numerous decisions that Acea Ato 5 is authorized by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, with a specific decree and in consideration of the public relevance of the credit, to collect debts by means of inscription in the official register, subject to issuing an order for payment, in compliance with the regulation.
Additionally, the law expressly provides that the enforced recovery of water tariffs can be pursued by means of inscription in the official register.
Numerous decisions have supported and confirmed Acea Ato 5’s legitimacy to issue orders for payment, and many have also deliberated on the issue of the lack, in some cases, of a written contract between the user and the integrated water service provider.
On this matter, judges have highlighted the fact that Acea Ato 5, provider of the integrated water service in the area of Frosinone, took over by law the existing contractual relationship between customers and Municipalities, consortia and other providers, after the Local Authority, formed by the Municipalities within the area, awarded it the supply contract.
The judges also clarified that in these cases, the provisions pertaining to business transfers apply.
Justices of the peace in Frosinone and Cassino, as well as the Courts of Frosinone, have often been called to deliberate on the matter and have all come to the same conclusion, explaining that contracts with water providers are supply contracts, regulated by the Italian Civil Code.
Precedents on the matter have made clear that the relationship established by contracts for the supply of drinkable water, despite being connected with the provision of a public service, is private and therefore regulated by the provisions on private contracts.
In fact, Acea Ato 5 is not a public body and therefore is not required to provide written contracts; the existence of a contract can be proven based on the behavior of the parties when it reveals an implicit intent to establish a relationship. For example, to clarify, this is the case of anyone who despite not having signed a contract uses the water service (and maybe even the sewerage system and water treatment services). In this case, the existence of a supply contract is proven simply by the fact that the provider has provided the service and the user has used it: proof, as mentioned, is in the parties’ behavior.
In addition to the recent jurisprudence pronouncements, a few months ago, the Ministry of Economy and Finance had already intervened to answer a Parliamentary Question and reiterated the legitimacy and lawfulness of the measures taken by Acea Ato 5.