C&W wins costs following court victory; questions remain over Trinidad case

26 Apr 2010

Cable & Wireless (C&W) has been awarded most of its court costs incurred whilst successfully defending claims filed by rival Digicel that the UK-based group unfairly inhibited competition in several Caribbean markets. C&W and related defendant parties ‘expect to recover the substantial majority of their costs – which ran to at least GBP15.5 million (USD24 million),’ C&W said in a press release.

Irish-owned, Jamaica-based Digicel Group had alleged it suffered losses of more than GBP65 million (USD100 million) between 2002 and 2006 because it claimed C&W had acted unlawfully by obstructing interconnection of telecoms networks to delay Digicel’s launch in various Caribbean markets. However, a UK High Court judge threw out all of Digicel’s claims relating to Barbados, Cayman, St Lucia, St Vincent & Grenadines and Grenada, although Digicel was awarded nominal damages for breach of contract by C&W’s Turks & Caicos operating subsidiary. The Court has now ruled that C&W is entitled to costs in the six aforementioned markets on an ‘enhanced indemnity basis.’ Meanwhile, similar allegations were made by Digicel against TSTT, the Trinidad & Tobago-based telco in which C&W holds a minority stake, and in this case the Court ruled that Digicel should pay 87.5% of recoverable costs. The Jamaica Observer quotes Digicel’s response to the costs award: ‘We will vigorously seek to minimise C&W/TSTT’s inflated claim for costs, and note that Mr Justice Morgan has ordered a reduced liability for costs owed to TSTT in relation to Trinidad & Tobago, given that he found that in this market they or their representatives ‘were guilty of conduct contrary to honest practices’ and ‘called untruthful evidence to support their denial’ at the trial … We reaffirm our disappointment with the [original] decision announced on 15 April and continue to consider our position in this regard.’ Digicel added it would be asking the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad & Tobago (TATT) to conduct a full inquiry into the matter to determine whether punitive action should be taken against TSTT in Trinidad, particularly taking into account the judge’s finding that TSTT and Nortel produced false and misleading documents that were provided to TATT.

Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Cable & Wireless (UK), Digicel (Jamaica), Digicel Group