High Court rejects bemobile's claims
The High Court of the Solomon Islands yesterday refused to grant bemobile any injunctive relief in two cases it has brought against the TCSI. In summarising his view, Justice Chetwynd, presiding, said he had "come within a hair's breadth" of striking down not only applications for injunctive relief but the main claims of the case themselves. He has however granted bemobile 21 days to file amended claims with the warning that if they resemble the current claims they are very likely to fail.
In the main claims, bemobile is seeking to have the court rule that the coverage obligation in its Telecommunications licence are unlawful or have been improperly exercised by the TCSI, nothwithstanding the fact that bemobile had expressly agreed to the provisions of the obligations in December 2009.
Speaking today, the Telecommunications Commissioner, Nicholas Williams, said "In addressing bemobile's claim for injunctive relief, the court took the opportunity to express its view that, on the arguments it has seen, it believes there is no merit in bemobile's claims that the coverage obligation and actions of the TCSI in enforcing it are unlawful. bemobile has expressly accepted the coverage obligation and amendments made to it. It has also, sadly, failed to meet on time any of the three coverage obligation thresholds it has been required to meet so far. I hope bemobile now focuses its time and energies in satisfying its coverage obligations and that we can avoid wasting more time before the courts."
Separately, bemobile and Solomon Telekom have brought cases before the court to argue that the TCSI should not offer a third mobile licence without first consulting with them. The TCSI rejects that there is any legal requirement to consult first and notes that bemobile and Solomon Telekom have had ample opportunity to make representations to it as the possibility of a third licensee entering the market after 1 April 2011 was envisaged when the Telecommunications Act was passed in September 2009.
However, rather than allow the application process for the third licence - which was launched on 11 February 2011 - to become bogged down in the court and in order to meet the desires of the two existing operators to make their comments and thoughts known, the TCSI has agreed to allow time for consultation.
"If either company has good arguments why no licence should be offered or what conditions should apply to the licensee, the TCSI wants to hear them and is bound to consider their representations carefully. Consequently, I have suspended the request for applications for three weeks to give both companies time to make their representations. I would ask both companies to provide their views to the TCSI expediously. To help that process, the TCSI shall issue to them a consultation paper later today."
The TCSI plans to be in a position to anounce the results of the consultaton process by the first week of April.
8 March 2011