HEARING THE CASE: Justice Carol Gobin. –
A COMPLAINT by the Telecommunications Authority (TATT) against the Telecommunications Services (TSTT) and its internet-service provider subsidiary, Amplia, over their failure to pay $26.4 million to a national fund to develop internet connectivity in rural communities, will not proceed in the High Court until the Privy Council rules on an appeal.
On Monday, Justice Carol Gobin was told there was an application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council concerning the case.
She adjourned the matter to May, for a status hearing, by which time, it is hoped the Privy Council will deliver a ruling so the parties will know how to proceed with the matter before her.
In November, the Court of Appeal denied TSTT and Amplia conditional leave to take their final appeal over TATT’s complaint to the Privy Council. The company subsequently filed an application directly to the London courts.
The companies are seeking to challenge a decision of the Court of Appeal to reinstate TATT’s case in July 2022.
In March 2021, TATT filed its lawsuit against TSTT and Amplia seeking to recover over $26,467,445 in unpaid contributions to the Universal Service Fund (USF).
TSTT brought a preliminary challenge as it claimed the TATT could not bring litigation to recover the debt as it suffered no loss and damage.
The majority State-owned company claimed that under the Telecommunications Act, which established TATT and the USF, TATT could only seek to enforce compliance by either advising the Public Utilities Minister to suspend or revoke its concession, or by initiating criminal proceedings.
Delivering a preliminary ruling on February 3, 2022, Gobin, who has been assigned the case, upheld the challenge and struck out the lawsuit as she ruled that she did not have the jurisdiction to hear it.
The Court of Appeal subsequently ruled that Gobin was wrong to do so as TATT had no remedy under the legislation to compel compliance from a concessionaire.
Representing TATT are Deborah Peake, SC, and Ravi Heffes-Doon while Martin Daly, SC, and Sonnel David-Longe represent TSTT and Amplia.