Jersey phone company wins competition court delay

Jersey telecom company JT has succeeded in its bid to delay the introduction of home phone line competition.

JT took the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority (JCRA) to court over its decision to introduce competition.

Under the original plans competition would have been in place in Jersey and Guernsey earlier this month, but the court agreed to delay that.

The court accepted that JT's views had not been properly considered.

Bailiff Sir Michael Birt criticised JT and JCRA for not settling the matter outside court.

'Fair procedure'

Daragh McDermott from JT said it was never about trying to stop competition.

He said JT stood to gain from competition in Guernsey as it covered both islands.

He said: "The crucial aspects of the case related to consultations run by the JCRA and decisions taken by the JCRA and how they need to balance that with parties most affected by a decision."

In his judgement, Bailiff Sir Michael Birt said the JCRA "did not comply with fair procedure" or "consider the objections and representations of JT".

Sir Michael also said the six-month deadline imposed by the regulator was too short.

"The JCRA must take account of resourcing issues which are presented to it by the parties it regulates, so that any timescale strikes a reasonable balance between the requirements of the regulator and the commercial interests of the operator.

"In our judgment, the JCRA in this case failed to focus fairly and properly on the appropriate balance," he said.

The court agreed with the regulator's view that competition should be introduced and that it was fair to set a fixed date.

Regulator Andrew Riseley from the JCRA said it was considering what to do next and would reveal plans in the new year.

'Choice and competition'

He said: "We have noted the comments of the court with respect to our internal procedures.

"Following the court's decision we are looking forward to working with all operators to make landline competition a reality.

"[We are] determined to ensure that consumers in the Channel Islands finally get choice and competition in this market."

Summing up, Sir Michael said he was concerned taxpayer-owned JT and the JCRA, a public body, could not come to an agreement without involving the court.

"One cannot help but think that the money and resources devoted to this case could have been put to much better use," he said.

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