Centrica closer to court battle with Accenture over £182m SAP system

British Gas has won all but one of its key pre-trial arguments in its lawsuit against Accenture, moving a large step closer to a court battle over the 2006 collapse of the utility company’s SAP-based customer billing system.

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British Gas has won all but one of its key pre-trial arguments in its lawsuit against Accenture, moving a large step closer to a court battle over the 2006 collapse of the utility company’s SAP-based customer billing system.

The judge last month ruled in the utility's favour on the six other issues. The ruling means parent Centrica can have the points heard in a court of law, in a lawsuit likely to be heard in 2012, but does not indicate that it has won any of its case.

Centrica, British Gas' parent company, is claiming £182 million from the IT supplier, saying the billing system Accenture implemented was fundamentally flawed. Accenture denies the claims, and is expected to appeal in the coming weeks.

British Gas has won all but one of the pre-trial arguments it presented in its lawsuit against Accenture.

The finding brings significantly closer a court battle over the 2006 collapse of the utility company’s SAP-based customer billing system.

The latest ruling comes after a judge last month ruled in the utility's favour on the six other issues.

This means that British Gas’s parent company Centrica can have the points heard in a court of law, but does not indicate that it has won any of its case.

The judge, Mr Justice Field, ruled that the gas and electricity firm, Britain’s largest, can fight in court for Accenture to pay the costs of system hardware up to 28 February 2007, when an amended agreement between the parties was ended. The company said it had paid to upgrade its hardware in order to counter problems with the billing system. It can also claim for other costs incurred due to the faults, including losses to customers.

Justice Field has also allowed Centrica to pull together various breaches of warranty claims into one fundamental breach claim, even though Accenture argued no single complaint raised could be called a fundamental breach.

Centrica claims major system problems took place, disrupting its customer service operation and leading to a large spike in complaints.

Accenture has said the problems were of British Gas’ own making, that the system was delivered on time, on budget, and was tested by British Gas which used it for two years before making any claim. The company also said that British Gas still uses unspecified elements of the system today.

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