Smart Telecom’s legal bid to overturn a decision by ComReg to revoke its 3G mobile licence received a boost in the High Court yesterday, when the regulator’s petition to have the case heard through a judicial review was refused. Instead the case will be heard as plenary proceedings, which involves verbal and documentary evidence, rather than a judicial review, which is based on affidavits. The action is expected to be heard in the coming months and the High Court will set a date for the hearing in three weeks time.
ComReg withdrew Smart Telecom’s licence to provide 3G services on 13 February this year. In a press statement Smart Telecom said: ‘The Company was notified by ComReg that it believes that the Company has failed to meet certain conditions of its original offer and accordingly that it no longer intends to award the licence to Smart.’ The operator strongly refuted ComReg’s accusation and action, and swiftly initiated legal proceedings to enforce the award of the licence.
Smart is seeking a declaration that there was a contract for the awarding of the licence to Smart Telecom, and the regulator was obliged to give reasonable time to the company to comply with conditions set down for the granting of the licence. Counsel for ComReg, Paul Sreenan SC, countered that Smart was effectively seeking relief to quash the decision, and said the matter should have been brought under special legal challenge proceedings, as plenary proceedings blur the real purpose of the action. Discovery of documents, he said, could also delay the present action. However, Mr Justice Kelly said there was nothing to be gained by conducting a judicial review, and all that it would do is cause further cost and delay.