Tuesday 20 March 2018

Licence losers seek to revive damages claim

Dearbhail McDonald Legal Editor

TWO of the consortiums which lost out to Esat Digifone for the country's second mobile phone licence will today ask the Supreme Court to set a date to hear their bid to revive a compensation claim against the State.

The Persona consortium will ask the Supreme Court to allow its multimillion euro compensation action to proceed.

Comcast, another failed bidder that included a number of companies -- one of which is owned by businessman Declan Ganley -- will also ask for permission to proceed with its case for compensation.

The hearing comes less than 24 hours after Taoiseach Enda Kenny confirmed that the final report of the Moriarty Tribunal would be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions and gardai.

Speaking following the publication of the report, Mr Ganley said it was "a good day for Ireland because it shows the Republic works".

He added: "We now know the playing field was anything but level."

The attempted revival of the actions by the losing bidders for the licence comes after the Moriarty Tribunal found, this week, that former Communications Minister Michael Lowry assisted businessman Denis O'Brien in his successful bid to secure the licence for Esat Digifone.

Five bidders lost out to Esat Digifone, led by Mr O'Brien's Esat.


Three years ago Mr Justice Paul Gilligan, in the High Court, ruled that there was an inordinate and inexcusable delay by Persona and Comcast in bringing and prosecuting their compensation actions.

The Persona consortium included a number of parties, including Motorola, at the time of the licence contest but it is now owned by Sigma Wireless Networks -- a company owned in equal parts by Tony Boyle and Michael McGinley.

Comcast formerly included a number of parties, but is now owned by businessman Declan Ganley, whose company, Ganley International, was an original member of the consortium.

This morning, the Chief Justice, Mr Justice John Murray, is expected to set a date for an appeal by losing bidders Persona and Comcast.

Persona and Comcast are challenging an earlier decision by the High Court to halt their multimillion euro legal cases against the State.

Persona sought substantial damages from what the consortium claimed was "dishonest assistance" for Esat Digifone.

Comcast said in the High Court proceedings that it believed that the competition was "wrongful" at the time it was making its bid.

The consortium claimed, however, that it could not establish key facts because it did not have access to details of the tendering process.

The awarding of the second GSM licence remains the most lucrative licence ever awarded in the State.

Irish Independent

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