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Feb 27, 2004

B.T.L. rate case opens in Supreme Court

The case of the Public Utilities Commission versus Belize Telecommunications Limited over rates the company has been charging consumers since December 2001, opened today in the Supreme Court. The proceedings started shortly after eleven o’clock, but before arguments on the substantive case could be heard by Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh, B.T.L.’s attorney Lois Young, raised two preliminary objections. Young argued that the P.U.C. has no grounds to take B.T.L to court over the rates because there is no benefit or relief for the applicant to get from any ruling that the C.J. would make. Young also argued that the commission’s jurisdiction over the disputed rates is also questionable. This she explained, is because when P.U.C. took over as the governing body in August of 2002, it quickly passed Statutory Instrument number 151 of 2002, in which it adopted the existing rates, which it is now asking the court to say are illegal. At the end of her submissions, Young asked the Chief Justice to dismiss the action brought by the P.U.C.. A ruling on her submissions will have to wait, at least until Saturday morning, when the case resumes. Attorneys representing the P.U.C. are Derek Courtenay and Michel Chebat.

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