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Advertisers emerge winners in Global Directories, LIME lawsuit

Published:Thursday | April 1, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Barbara Gayle, Staff Reporter

Global Directories Jamaica Limited (GDJL) has won its legal battle against Cable and Wireless Jamaica, now trading as LIME Jamaica, over differences on the payment terms offered to advertisers in the Yellow Pages of the Jamaican telephone directory.

Global Directories, which produces the directory under contract from LIME, offers an easy payment plan - 12 equal monthly instalments, commencing the month after each year's directory is published.

But the phone company decided that payment should be collected in full months before the directory was published and in January 2008 directed GDJL to change the arrangements with advertisers.

Global Directories refused, arguing that it would not be a commercially wise move.

It also argued that LIME could not make a unilateral change in the agreement on such an important issue.

LIME threatened to terminate GDJL's contract, which dates back to November 4, 2005.

Hilary Phillips, QC (who is now a judge in the Court of Appeal), and attorney-at-law Denise Kitson argued on behalf of LIME that the advertising contracts were between LIME and the advertisers and that Global was only acting as LIME's agent.

The advertising contracts, they told the court, allowed LIME to adjust the terms of payment, and submitted further that LIME did not need Global's consent to do so.

Favours advertisers

But Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Hibbert was more convinced by GDJL's arguments and ruled in its favour on March 25 - a decision that also favours advertisers who can continue, for now, to settle their bills in instalments.

Global Directories had also claimed damages of $109.07 million due under the four-year-old contract, plus interest, but LIME had settled the bill before the court case was heard.

Justice Hibbert ruled that LIME was not liable for the payment of interest, but directed the phone company to pay Global Directories' legal costs.

GDJL's lawyers, Michael Hylton, QC, and Carlene Larmond, countered that while the publisher was not a party to the advertising contract, changes to the terms of that contract would affect its rights under the publishing agreement between Global and LIME.

The agreements, when read together, do not allow LIME to change the terms of the advertising contract without GDJL's agreement, the defending attorneys said.

Justice Hibbert agreed that LIME could not unilaterally change the terms of the agreement.

The judge also issued an injunction restraining LIME from terminating the publishing agreement by reason of GDJL's refusal to require advertisers to make payment in advance.

The judge said Global was not in breach of the publishing agreement by reason of its refusal to require advertisers to make payments in advance.