OC client Tesla settles with Ecotricity out of court in electric charger row

Osborne Clarke client electric car manufacturer Tesla has settled out of court with renewables giant Ecotricity, a year after its competition law battle began.

Ecotricity filed for an injunction against Tesla at the High Court in May 2014 and sought to sue the manufacturer for breach of non-disclosure agreements, turning to Lewis Silkin partner Adam Glass.

The green energy supplier alleged Tesla was attempting to persuade motorway service stations to break off charging station contracts with Ecotricity after it was sent an email from Tesla including such information.

Tesla challenged the exclusivity of Ecotricity’s electric charging network in response, turning to Osborne Clarke partner Charlie Wedin.

The case was set to apply competition law to exclusive agreements for the use of land making the case important for both the electric vehicles market and competition law more broadly. It had been due to go to trial in January 2016 and featured in The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2015 (19 January 2015).

Confirming the settlement, Ecotricity general counsel Tom Cowling said: “Ecotricity and Tesla have reached an out of the court settlement, the terms of which are confidential.”

Ecotricity was represented by Matrix Chambers’ Rhodri Thompson QC and Nicholas Gibson, instructed by Glass on the competition issues of the case. Glass also instructed 3 Hare Court’s Peter Knox QC and Rupert Butler on the non-competition aspects.

Monckton Chambers’ Paul Harris QC and Ronit Kreisberger were instructed by Wedin for defendants Tesla.

Ecotricity had originally teamed up with Tesla, which was founded by PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, to use Tesla’s electric car superchargers. However Ecotricity founder Dale Vince said he received a “brutal” email from Tesla informing his company of Tesla’s intent to take over several of its sites.

Ecotricity claimed Tesla was negotiation with an unnamed company, asking it to break off exclusivity contracts signed with Ecotricity and sign for Tesla instead.

The legal lineup:

For the claimants, Ecotricity

Matrix’s Rhodri Thompson QC and Nicholas Gibson and 3 Hare Court’s Peter Knox QC and Rupert Butler, instructed by Lewis Silkin partner Adam Glass

For the defendants, Tesla Motors

Monckton’s Paul Harris QC and Ronit Kreisberger, instructed by Osborne Clarke partner Charlie Wedin