The Competition Appeal Tribunal considered the nature of Ofcom’s dispute resolution powers contained in the Communications Act 2003 in the recent decision in Rapture Television Plc v Office of Communications. Each of the six counsel appearing at the Tribunal were Monckton barristers.
Rapture Television, a broadcaster, complained to Ofcom about the terms and conditions on which British Sky Broadcasting Ltd offered Electronic Programme Guide (“EPG”) services to Rapture. Sky were obliged to provide such services on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis, as expanded upon in “The terms of supply of conditions access: Oftel guidelines”. The Tribunal considered the nature of Ofcom’s dispute resolution powers, together with the substance of the requirements incumbent upon Sky in the provision of EPG services in finding that Ofcom had correctly determined the dispute between the parties in this case.
Michael Bowsher QC, Elisa Holmes and Fiona Banks, instructed by Orrick, represented Rapture.
Peter Roth QC, instucted by Herbert Smith, appeared for Sky.
Christopher Vajda QC and Philip Woolfe represented Ofcom.
On 25 March, the Royal Court of Jersey made a consent order discontinuing the first appeal made to the Royal Court against a decision by the Jersey Competition and Regulatory Authority (JCRA) under the Telecommunications (Jersey) Law 2002. The appeal had been brought by Jersey Telecom (JT), the largest mobile phone operator in Jersey, against a decision by the JCRA in August 2007 requiring the introduction of mobile number portability (MNP) in Jersey alone. Under MNP, customers can keep their mobile phone number when they switch operator.
After an agreed adjournment of the hearing of the appeal, in February 2008 it was announced that the three mobile telephone operators in Jersey and Guernsey have agreed with the two Channel Islands telecommunications regulators (the JCRA in Jersey and the Office of Utility Regulation in Guernsey) that MNP will be introduced across the Channel Islands by 1 December 2008, and the JCRA has issued an Initial Notice giving 1 December 2008 as the implementation date for MNP.
George Peretz, instructed by Bedell Cristin in Jersey, advised JT on the appeal.
Ben Rayment, and Ogier in Jersey, advised the JCRA.
Four years after the EC Commission decided that the Walloon Region of Belgium had provided illegal State Aid to Ryanair in respect of Ryanair’s development of new routes and the basing of aircraft at Brussels South Charleroi Airport, the CFI heard Ryanair’s Appeal against the Decision on March 12th 2008. Ryanair’s case before the Court is that the EC Commission misapplied the State Aid rules to agreements entered into between Regional Airports such as Charleroi and Low Cost Airlines such as Ryanair, ignored the evidence available to them of similar lawful arrangements made between privately owned airports and Ryanair, wrongly refused to admit that publicly owned airports could invoke the Market Economy Investor Principle so as to compete on a level playing field and distorted the Business Plans of the Airport which showed that such an investment would be profitable.
John Swift QC and Josh Holmes were brought in to the case for the purpose of arguing at the Oral Hearing, instructed by A&L Goodbody of Dublin on behalf of Ryanair.
5 March 2008 – Lord Chief Justice rules that Article 8 ECHR rights to private life and correspondence must be respected in mutual assistance proceedings concerning business transactions
On 4 & 5 March 2008, the Divisional Court (Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers LCJ presiding) heard the judicial review in Hafner and anor v. City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The case concerned a Swiss lawyer’s challenge to the magistrates’ court’s decision to obtain evidence under compulsion in London for forwarding to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission. The claimants asserted that the evidence concerning business matters referred to them, but the magistrates’ court refused to allow them to review the material to ensure that privileged or commercially sensitive material would not be unnecessarily disclosed, and concluded that the claimants’ privacy rights under Article 8 European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) were not engaged.
Giving judgment the Lord Chief Justice held that the courts, when considering requests to obtain evidence in mutual assistance proceedings, must consider the privacy rights of third parties under Article 8 ECHR. In particular, where a request for mutual assistance sought the production of evidence of business matters potentially covered by privilege, obtained in confidence or otherwise subject to privacy concerns, the courts should consider whether to give notice of the proceedings to third parties affected by the evidence. The courts should also consider allowing such parties to have prior access to the evidence, if necessary upon giving an undertaking of non-disclosure and under the supervision of the court, for the purpose of making written and/or oral submissions in respect of their confidentiality interests.
The Lord Chief Justice quashed the magistrates’ court’s decision and issued detailed guidance on the procedure to be used to ensure respect for Article 8 rights in mutual assistance proceedings.
Piers Gardner and Ian Rodgers appeared on behalf of the claimants, instructed by Kingsley Napley.
Two Kurdish groups, the PKK and Kongra-Gel will today attempt to persuade the CFI in Luxembourg to annul decisions by the EU Council (made in 2002 and 2004 respectively) to place them on a list of terrorist organisations.
The case (T-229/02) follows the PKK’s successful 2007 appeal to the ECJ to allow its case (brought by Osman Ocalan on its behalf) to proceed. The two groups will argue that the Council failed to give reasons and also that they were on ceasefire at the time the decisions were taken. The Applicants claim that they were and remain entitled to have these decisions expunged from the Community legal order. They are also seeking their costs.
Philip Moser represents the Applicant Mr Ocalan in the ECJ and the CFI.
The VAT Tribunal has published its decision in the case of T Mobile (UK) Ltd, an appeal against a decision of HMRC concerning the VAT liability of “payment processing” charges levied on customers who do not pay their bills by Direct Debit. T Mobile charges its ‘pay monthly’ customers £3 for each bill which they pay by a method other than Direct Debit or BACS. T Mobile argued that these charges were consideration for supplies of “payment processing services”, and that those supplies were exempt from VAT pursuant to the financial services exemption (Group 5 of Schedule 9 to the Value Added Tax Act 1994).
In recent years, many telecoms and utility companies have introduced payment processing charges in an effort to encourage their customers to pay by Direct Debit. T Mobile’s appeal has been widely seen as a test case for traders seeking to establish that these charges are VAT exempt.
The Tribunal has dismissed the appeal, ruling as follows:
(1) The £3 charge was part of the consideration for T Mobile’s standard rated telecommunications services. There was no separate supply of payment processing services. In the alternative, any supply of payment processing services was ancillary to the supply of telecommunications services and should not be treated separately for VAT purposes.
(2) Even if there had been a separate supply of payment processing services, that supply would not have qualified as an exempt financial service.
Alan Bates represented the Commissioners for HMRC
Please click below for more information on: Alan Bates
A key telecommunications case featuring seven Monckton barristers has been picked out as one of The Lawyer’s ‘Top Ten Trials’ for 2008.
The case of Orange & Ors v OFCOM & BT, also referred to as ‘Calls to Mobiles’, is addressing the issue of call charges for mobile phones.
The article says, “Calls To Mobiles is the largest of several pieces of litigation relating to call charges this year, including the European case on roaming charges. This particular case will decide whether consumers have been paying too much for their telephone calls. OFCOM believes that this is the case and is looking for phone rates to be slashed.”
Proceedings begin in the Competition Appeal Tribunal at the end of January.
Monckton barristers are involved on all sides:
Peter Roth QC, Josh Holmes and Ben Lask represented OFCOM.
Anneli Howard represented BT
Jon Turner QC and Meredith Pickford appeared for T-Mobile whilst Ben Rayment appeared for the Competition Commission
The full article is available on The Lawyer’s web pages, please click here.
Monckton Chambers are proud to announce that Daniel Beard has been listed as one of only three junior barristers to make the The Lawyer’s Hot 100 2008.
The annual supplement identifies members of the legal profession who have excelled in their chosen fields during the past year.
“With European Community Law becoming a vibrant arena within disputes, litigators need a safe pair of hands. They could not do much better than Daniel Beard of Monckton Chambers.
Beard, who was called to the Bar in 1996, is one of the best juniors at the competition and European Bar. One recent victory is testament to that.
Beard took on the might of the European Commission in a case that laid down a precedent that companies in Europe cannot discriminate against contractors. Contractors at Joint European Torus (Jet), the EU’s largest nuclear fusion research project, had not been given the same status as European employees of Jet as they were deemed to have been contracted as third parties.
Beard and fellow Monckton barrister Peter Roth QC won the UK workers £30m in damages. With landmark victories like that, expect Beard to take silk soon.”
Daniel is delighted to be listed in this year’s edition of the Hot 100.
In view of his renowned practice in EC law, Legal Week asked our Head of Chambers, Paul Lasok QC, to share a few thoughts on the current hot topic of an EU referendum. For more information on this opinion piece, published in the 15th November 2007 issue, see www.legalweek.com
Chambers UK continues to highlight us as a leading set for Competition, EU, Procurement, Tax and Telecommunications with further recommendations in Admin & Public Law, Construction, Environment and Sport.
Just a few quotes are “Universally acknowledged to be ‘one of the best sets in the UK’ Monckton Chambers is firmly established as a formidable competition and antitrust powerhouse” and “…One interviewee suggested that ‘the set currently seems to have a real edge, both because of the breadth and depth of the talent and because of its responsiveness” and “Lauded as ‘the specialists’, Monckton Chambers is the most experienced set in the public procurement arena and boasts 16 members with some form of expertise in this area.”
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our clients for their continuous support. Without them, these recommendations would just not be possible.