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Jun 19, 2015

Court of Appeal Dismisses Speednet Claim

Fred Lumor

The two telephone companies were before the Court of Appeal which today concluded its second session for this year. First we go to the case of SpeedNet Communications Limited, the parent company of Smart. Four years ago in 2011, the utility company filed a lawsuit against the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) concerning fees payable for frequency authorization for its telephone service. The PUC set a charge of seven hundred and ninety-two thousand dollars for a total of seven thousand nine hundred and twenty-five channels charged at one hundred dollars per channel, via fourteen point to point links of separate bandwidth. In court, SpeedNet argued that it should pay far less and filed suit. Justice Oswell Legall dismissed the claim in the Supreme Court and SpeedNet appealed in December of 2013. Today, the panel of Justices Manuel Sosa, Samuel Awich and Minnet Hafiz-Bertram dismissed the appeal except in one respect, ruling that the PUC could not lawfully charge SpeedNet for a full year in the first year.  We spoke to PUC attorney, Senior Counsel Fred Lumor as he exited court.

 

Fred Lumor, Attorney for Public Utilities Commission

“This is an appeal against the judgment of Justice Legall which was launched by SpeedNet Communications. The Public Utilities Commission has assessed certain charges in the schedule to the Telecommunications Act for SpeedNet to be paid. SpeedNet’s contention is that the fees are too large, onerous and too expensive and that it was due to misinterpretation of the schedule of fees by the PUC. So they asked the court to clarity the meaning of the schedule. The court rejected the appeal, but partly accepted the argument of SpeedNet. So we will say that the appeal was allowed to a certain extent meaning that the fees are not to be paid in advance but should be paid in arrears. Since SpeedNet has paid PUC the fees in advance, the court ordered that PUC should pay interest on over seven hundred thousand dollars which SpeedNet paid to PUC as fees in advance…meaning that PUC will have to make payment of six percent interest on that money back to SpeedNet. But the court says, however, since SpeedNet is to pay fees to PUC, they can set it off against future payments.”

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