Asserson acts for London’s orthodox Jewish community to ensure new smart meters do not breach Shabbat laws.
New digital water meters currently being installed across London by service provider Thames Water are raising human rights concerns, and questions around how far a monopoly service provider can interfere with the right to follow one’s religion.
Previous meters have worked on a purely mechanical process. The new meters use an electric current, meaning that turning on a tap could trigger use of electricity, and therefore breach Jewish observance of Sabbath rules. Notwithstanding raising initial concerns from the Jewish community, Thames Water continued to connect new meters to the homes of orthodox Jews.
Asserson wrote to Thames Water explaining that it is in breach of Human Rights law, and threatening an injunction.
Thames Water has now agreed to pause installations at properties where there is a concern, and if necessary to investigate deploying a type of meter which does not risk breaking Shabbat. Asserson is working with the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations to assess the new meters and work out a way forward with the water company.
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