The Malta Independent 23 July 2019, Tuesday

Easygas ordered to pay Liquigas €150,000 in damages over repainted gas cylinders

Thursday, 30 May 2019, 18:30 Last update: about 3 months ago

A court has ordered local gas distribution company Easygas to pay nearly €150,000 in damages to its competitor Liquigas for repainting the latter company’s gas cylinders to look like its own.

Liquigas sells LPG in green and yellow cylinders whilst Easygas use grey cylinders.

Under the applicable law, the owner of the cylinder is the person putting it on the market and who possesses a certificate of valuation issued under Maltese regulations.

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Liquigas filed legal action in 2015 after finding out that Easygas was painting Liquigas cylinders grey, refilling them and putting them in the market as its own.

The law regulating LPG prohibits the filling of cylinders belonging to anyone but the owner. They cannot be used or carried except to return to the authorised provider and owner.

Mr. Justice Mark Chetcuti was told that Easygas had also entered into an undertaking after a warrant of prohibitory injunction filed in 2011 which read "Respondents undertake not to refill the cylinders mentioned in the application with their own product and in no way to market their product in the said cylinders."

Liquigas had argued that control over its cylinders was necessary to ensure a chain of responsibility in case of an accident involving gas cylinders.

This was not an isolated incident, but part of a pattern of illegal actions by Easygas, amongst them the sending of its rival’s cylinders to Salerno in Italy to be repainted grey and rebranded before refilling them, said the plaintiff company.

In Feb 2015 the plaintiff had filed a judicial protest demanding that the defendants cease and desist from using its property.

Easygas had denied the claims, saying that no evidence had been exhibited to show that Liquigas had originally placed the cylinders on the market. In any case, a 2011 change in the law had changed the meaning of gas cylinder ownership, it said.

The First Hall of the Civil Court found for the plaintiff, ruling that the defendant company had caused Liquigas to suffer damages quantified at €146,335 and ordering Easygas to pay that amount, with interest and costs. 

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