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Saturday 17 March 2018

O'Brien's Digicel faces €18m bill after failed action

Daniel McConnell

Daniel McConnell

Denis O'Brien's firm Digicel will have to pay rival company Cable & Wireless in excess of £15.5m (€18m) after it lost a competition case, it was decided in the High Court in London last Friday.

Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) will be reimbursed for costs incurred defending itself in a competition case that it won the previous week, the company said on Friday.

The telecoms firm said it expected to recover most of the £15.5m it had run up defending itself against a High Court claim by Digicel that it had unlawfully delayed the entry of competitors in seven Caribbean territories.

The London judge had dismissed all the claims brought by Digicel, though the court found a minor breach of contract in the Turks & Caicos. It said this had caused no delay to Digicel and therefore no loss. Digicel had claimed that it should be awarded "several hundreds of millions of pounds" if it won.

The costs recovery would be accounted for as an exceptional gain in its 2010/2011 accounts, CWC said on Friday. Digicel had claimed that CWC had unlawfully delayed the entry of competitors.

Digicel said it was extremely disappointed with the decision and said the outcome should be attributed to the weak regulatory frameworks in place in certain Caribbean jurisdictions. It said it was considering its legal options.

"This is a resounding victory for Cable & Wireless Communications," its chief executive Tony Rice said in a statement. "This case has been a pointless waste of time and money."

The failed case was taken by Digicel in 2007 to challenge the actions of CWC 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.

Sunday Independent

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