The Government will support energy sector

During the turbulence period of the Russian economy, devaluation of the ruble, fall in prices in the fuel market and complication of credit conditions, the Ministry of Energy works out a separate plan to support the energy sector of the economy. The plan includes system-wide measures to stabilize the industry, as well as separate measures for significant companies.

The plan proceeds from the fact that in case of review of the forecast of the social and economic development for 2015 for the worse, the payment discipline in energy companies will become more secure and management costs will be reduced. The mechanism of payment of excess power transmitting facilities and the principle "take or pay" will be introduced. In this case a supplier undertakes to deliver the goods up to the maximum volumes fixed in a contract, and a buyer agrees that he/she will pay a certain part of these volumes in any case, regardless of how much he/she has purchased in fact in the period under review. All state-owned companies of the branch will suffer the fate of reduction of investment programs.

Additionally, the plan provides the support of specific enterprises: in particular, "Rosseti" needs help in obtaining funds for compensation of credit interest rates and shortfall in income, as well as in working out of preferential credit schemes.

It is expected to provide financial assistance for electricity suppliers by increasing sales mark-ups considering interest rate development.

However, there are some questions to the plan: instead of increasing the efficiency of the industry and the use of large reserves of energy companies accumulated in the recent years, the Ministry of Energy offers again to write off all risks and financial problems of energy men in payments of consumers, or to use all possible schemes of government support.

Supreme arbitration court offers the business to enter into out-of-court settlements more often

The Plenum of the Supreme arbitration court (SAC) has prepared the draft decree «About conciliation procedures». This project should help the parties reach an agreement, and at the same time to «unload» arbitration courts.

The statistics of recent years testifies to underdevelopment of conciliation procedures in domestic jurisprudence. Thus, in recent years the share of out-of-court settlements is no more than 3% of the total number of cases.

The decree prepared by the SAC Plenum contains numerous statings of desirability of out-of-court settlements in order to decrease the burden on courts. However, there is no mechanism for forcing the parties to conciliation in the draft decree, as well as there is no leading role of court in the conciliation of parties. Now therefore, this procedure attaches to disputing parties, which are given the freedom to formulate the terms of the settlement agreement. The interference of the court in the conciliation process is allowed first of all for prevention of procedural abuse, for example, in those cases, when one of the parties, as a rule, the defendant, uses formal conciliation procedures for protraction of hearing of a case. In this situation the party may be fixed with court costs, that should serve as a deterrent to commission of illegal actions.

The draft decree organizes and develops approaches worked-out during the judicial practice concerning questions, arising at the conclusion of settlement agreements. The key provisions for the business are provisions regarding conciliation procedures with public authorities, in particular, tax and competition authorities. As of today the conclusion of settlement agreements in such categories of dispute occurs rarely. Suggested project prohibited the conclusion of settlement agreements, aimed at changing of tax consequences of taxpayer’s activity, in particular, application of the reduced rate, change of the principles of estimation of penalty fee, tax exemption, and others. However, the parties can come to an agreement for the recognition of expenses for the purposes of formation of the tax base, for the recognition of methods of tax optimization of a taxpayer as acceptable, and so on.

Special mention should be made of the question as to whether the parties can apply to courts again, if the previously concluded settlement agreement hasn’t solved all problems. In this regard, the draft decree of the Plenum of the Supreme Arbitration Court of the RF contains two opposite versions. Selecting one of them in the final version of the decree should have a significant impact on the judicial practice on conclusion of settlement agreements.
In summary, it should be noted that the suggested decree will be useful first al all for those participants of proceedings, who really want to make an agreement, as well as will unload arbitration courts, therefore will speed up their work.