Business World

Monday 11 December 2017

Digicel loses landmark case over alleged C&W access block

Thomas Molloy

DENIS O'Brien-controlled mobile-phone operator Digicel Group lost a landmark court case against Cable & Wireless Communications yesterday over allegations that C&W blocked its entrance to the telecommunications market.

The defeat is a blow to Digicel, which previously claimed that it would be awarded "several hundreds of millions of pounds" if it won.

Jamaica-based Digicel had claimed in the lawsuit that C&W had unlawfully delayed allowing Digicel to connect its network to the C&W network in several countries in the Caribbean.

Judge Paul Morgan dismissed the claim yesterday in a ruling in the High Court in London. Digicel had been claiming $100m (€73.7m), the judge added.

Digicel said in a press release issued in 2007 when it first began the court case that "the damages sought by Digicel should amount to several hundreds of millions of pounds".

C&W said yesterday after its victory that the case had been "a pointless waste of time and money" and that it will now seek the reimbursement of its costs in the case from Digicel.

Eight-year-old Digicel has vied with Cable & Wireless for the past few years to be the Caribbean's top mobile phone provider.

Digicel's court case related to a period when it was tilting at C&W's position as the region's largest provider. Digicel had alleged C&W was in breach of local laws passed to allow other entrants into the market.

C&W had previously been the monopoly telecoms provider in some Caribbean jurisdictions, the judgment said.

Disappointed

"We are extremely disappointed with the decision of the High Court in London," Digicel said in a statement yesterday. "Following this decision, Digicel is currently considering its legal options."

C&W said the court had found a minor breach of contract in the Turks & Caicos, but said it had caused no delay to Digicel -- and therefore no loss.

"This is a resounding victory for Cable & Wireless Communications," its chief executive Tony Rice said in a statement.

The failed case was taken by Digicel in 2007 to challenge the actions of Cable & Wireless in allegedly obstructing Digicel's efforts to roll out mobile phone networks in St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Trinidad & Tobago and the Turks & Caicos Islands between 2002 and 2006.

Digicel said the outcome of the court case would have no impact on its operations or customers.

Irish Independent

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