CAT 15
3 May 2011
Judgment of the Tribunal unanimously dismissing two appeals by British Telecommunications plc (“BT”) against decisions by OFCOM to accept jurisdiction of alleged disputes referred to OFCOM under section 185 of the Communications Act 2003. The first appeal involved OFCOM’s decision that they had jurisdiction to determine alleged disputes between BT and certain mobile network operators in relation to the new pricing structure set by BT for termination of calls to 080 numbers (“the NCCN 1007 Appeal”). The second appeal concerned OFCOM’s decision that they had jurisdiction to determine alleged disputes between BT and certain communications providers concerning an alleged overcharge for Ethernet services (“the Ethernet Appeal”).
In both the NCCN 1007 Appeal and the Ethernet Appeal the Tribunal held that, having regard to the events which had happened, there were “disputes” within the meaning of that section capable of being referred to OFCOM for resolution in accordance with the Act. The Tribunal rejected BT’s submission that the prospect of future negotiations between the parties after handing down of judgments of the Tribunal in related pending appeals prevented a “dispute” from coming into existence.
The Tribunal also held, in both appeals, that OFCOM were clearly entitled to come to the view that such future negotiations would not amount to satisfactory alternative means for resolving either of the sets of disputes under section 186 of the 2003 Act.
In the NCCN 1007 Appeal the Tribunal decided that OFCOM were clearly entitled to conclude that there were no exceptional circumstances, within the meaning of section 186(5) of the 2003 Act, in the disputes in question.
This is an unofficial summary prepared by the Registry of the Competition Appeal Tribunal.