Court upholds Berlin district heating network remaining with Vattenfall

Energy group prevails with support of Redeker Sellner Dahs

Berlin, 6 July 2021. In a decision handed down on 5 July 2021, the Superior Administrative Court of Berlin‑​Brandenburg upheld a 2017 ruling by Berlin Administrative Court according to which the Land of Berlin was held to have no claim to handover of the district heating network operated by Vattenfall Wärme Berlin AG in Berlin‑​Brandenburg.

In 1994, the Land of Berlin had concluded an agreement with Berliner Kraft‑ und Licht‑​Aktiengesellschaft (Bewag), a legal predecessor of Vattenfall, authorising it to lay district heating pipelines in Berlin's public road network. In contrast to the electricity grid also covered by the agreement in the event of the concession being lawfully awarded to another company, it was disputed whether the Land of Berlin also had the right to take over the district heating network upon the termination of the agreement (31 December 2014) in return for reimbursement of its fair value.

In the administrative court proceedings, the Land was seeking a declaratory judgment that would obligate Vattenfall to transfer to the Land the almost 2,000 km long district heating network, which supplies around 1.3 million residential units in Berlin. It is one of the largest district heating networks in Europe. The Land of Berlin had estimated its value at between € 800 million and € 5 billion. The Administrative Court denied the Land’s claim to transfer of ownership, dismissing the action and barring any appeal. The Land’s complaint against the decision and barring of appeal was rejected by the Superior Administrative Court as unfounded. The decision is hence permanent, final and incontestable.

Redeker attorneys Prof Dr Olaf Reidt and Dr Thomas Stickler served as counsel for Vattenfall.

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