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JPS lawyers slap down 'evidence' against exclusive licence

Paul Henry
Thursday, July 12, 2012

LAWYERS for the respondents in the case against the Jamaica Public Service's (JPS) all-island exclusive licence yesterday dismissed claims that a 1913 House of Lords ruling was against monopoly of the light and power sector.

The attorneys submitted in the Supreme Court that the ruling held that there was nothing wrong with monopoly as long as it was approved by the relevant authority.

Their submissions were in response to the 1913 case — London Electric Supply Corporation Ltd v Westminster Electric Supply Corporation Ltd — which the claimant said affirmed their argument against monopolisation.

The lawyers were asked by Justice Bryan Sykes to make the submissions after the old case was submitted to the court by the claimant's attorney Hugh Wildman some days after judgement was reserved last month in the challenge against the JPS' exclusive licence. A ruling is now expected in September.

Yesterday, Wildman said that the old case was a proper interpretation of a British Act that was passed in 1882 and which was adopted by Jamaica in the form of the Electric Lighting Act of 1890. Wildman also reiterated his previous submissions that Section 3 of the Act is against the issuing of a licence to a sole entity to provide electricity to the entire island.

Opposition Senator Dennis Meadows, Betty Ann Blaine and Cyrus Rousseau are challenging the legality of the JPS' 20-year licence, which was issued in 2001. The claimants are seeking to have the court declare the licence null and void.

Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell, the JPS and the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) are the respondents in the case.

Queen's Counsel Michael Hylton appeared for the JPS; David Batts, QC, appeared for the OUR; and Althea Jarrett of the Attorney General Chambers represented the minister.

Attorney Marvalyn Taylor-Wright appeared along with Wildman for the claimants.

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