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JPS exclusive licence case back in court

BY PAUL HENRY Crime/Court Desk co-ordinator henryp@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, July 05, 2012    

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THE action challenging the legality of the Jamaica Public Service's (JPS) exclusive all-island licence will reconvene in the Supreme Court today, a week after Justice Bryan Sykes reserved judgement in the case.

The matter is being recalled for further submissions to be made on a 1913 case, the 'London Electric Supply Corporation Ltd v Westminster Electric Supply Corporation Ltd', which the claimants are confident will help their cause against the light and power company.

Attorney Hugh Wildman, who is representing the claimants, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that the House of Lords in England gave an interpretation of the Electric Lighting Act "which confirmed our position that you can't run a monopoly under the Act".

Wildman quoted a section of the House of Lords ruling:

"I feel morally certain that it is entirely out of the accord with the intentions of Parliament, which throughout appears to have been undeviating in protecting the rights of consumers and the public against the amassing of a monopoly and the extinction of those option of supply which might without it exist."

Wildman said he discovered the case last Friday and that copies were sent to the attorney for the respondents -- the JPS, Office of Utilities Regulation and the energy minister.

The judge last Wednesday reserved judgement in the case until September after hearing final submissions in the lawsuit challenging the legality of the licence issued by the minister of energy in 2001 and renewed in 2007.

Opposition Senator Dennis Meadows, Betty Ann Blaine and Cyrus Rousseau of the group Citizens United for the Reduction of Electricity (CURE) are challenging the legality of the licence, claiming that Section 3 of the Electric Lighting Act of 1890 stipulates that electricity is to be provided by several different entities and in specified areas of the island.

The claimants are seeking to have the court declare the 20-year licence -- which is preventing prospective players from entering the energy market -- null and void.

The claimants also argued that the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) was wrong in recommending to the minister that he grant the all-island licence. The OUR has argued, however, that it never recommended that the minister grant the JPS an exclusive licence, as is being claimed.

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