Sat | Dec 3, 2016

LIME wins at Privy Council

Published:Friday | January 22, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter

Telecommunications provider Digicel has lost its legal battle at the United Kingdom Privy Council to set aside a Court of Appeal ruling that the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) had the authority to set rates for the mobile phone market.

Yesterday's ruling is a major victory for telecoms provider LIME (formerly Cable and Wireless), which was a defendant in the case, because it will not have to repay more than $340 million which Digicel had paid after the Court of Appeal ruling in 2007.

Commenting on the landmark decision, LIME Jamaica's Country Manager, Geoff Houston, said: "LIME is very pleased with today's (yesterday's) decision of the Privy Council which strongly supports the independence of the regulator - the Office of Utilities Regulation."

The Court of Appeal had set aside a Judicial Review Court ruling in 2003 that the OUR had no authority to set rates for the mobile (cellular) market. The OUR had ignored a directive in April 2002 by then Minister of Industry Commerce and Technology Phillip Paulwell which barred the OUR from intervening in the mobile market.

In order for Digicel to take advantage of its licence obtained in 2000, it had to conclude an interconnection agreement with LIME.

The Privy Council, in its unanimous decision, upheld the Court of Appeal ruling that the minister's directive was unlawful.

Seeking orders

Both the OUR and Mossel (Jamaica) Ltd, trading as Digicel, went to the Supreme Court seeking orders. The OUR challenged the minister's directive, while Digicel had challenged the OUR's determination to set mobile rates despite the minister's instruction.

Following the Judicial Review Court ruling in December 2003, LIME had to pay out $164 million to Mossel (Jamaica Ltd) and $4.4 million to Centennial Jamaica Ltd, trading as MiPhone. The money was repaid after the Court of Appeal ruling in 2007.

barbara.gayle@gleanerjm.com

The Privy Council, in its unanimous decision, upheld the Court of Appeal ruling that the minister's directive was unlawful.