Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter
The Supreme Court has rejected an application by telecommunications company LIME, which sought to block the acquisition of Claro Jamaica by Digicel Group by challenging the decision of the prime minister to approve what it suggested was a harmful deal.
LIME's lawyers indicated that they would be appealing the decision by Justice Brian Sykes throwing out the application, even as Digicel called its legal challenge a failed cynical ploy to derail the deal.
"We welcome this decision today - the reality is that LIME has been engaged in a cynical attempt to block a deal that is clearly permissible by the law - a fact which has been supported by today's judgment," said Richard Fraser, head of Legal and Regulatory Affairs for Digicel Jamaica.
The Fair Trading Commission (FTC) and Prime Minister Bruce Golding were the defendants in the case.
Justice Sykes said Prime Minister Bruce Golding followed the law and committed no breach. The judge said Golding did all he was required to do, took the consumers' interest into consideration and followed the provisions of the Telecommunications Act.
LIME was seeking an order to compel the FTC to take out an order against the Digicel-Claro transaction. LIME contended that the prime minister should not have approved the deal because it amounted to an abuse of a dominant position and anti-competitive behaviour.
Justice Sykes said the remedies being sought against the FTC were not ones which could be pursued in law because the FTC had statutory discretion, and that it was not the duty of the court to tell the FTC how to exercise that statutory discretion.
The FTC and the PM were represented by Solicitor General Douglas Leys, QC, and attorney-at-law Barrington McDermott.
Michael Hylton, QC, and Georgia Gibson-Henlin represented Digicel, which was an interested party in the proceedings.
Hylton said the ruling was not surprising as LIME's case had been weak from the start.
Golding, in announcing the approval of the merger, told Parliament that Digicel would acquire the Claro network and spectrum, but would be required to run two separate networks.