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Legal challenge against JPS monopoly could be brought back to court

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

Friday, July 27, 2012 | 9:36 AM    

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THE legal challenge against the Jamaica Public Service's (JPS) exclusive all-island licence could be called up back in the Supreme Court for a second time since judgment has been reserved in the matter.

Attorney Hugh Wildman, who is representing the claimants in the case told the Jamaica Observer today that he has discovered two other cases that he's certain will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that monopolies are illegal.

Wildman said he will forward copies of the cases — Darcey v Allen, January 1, 1599 and Davenant v Hubris of 1601 — to Justice Bryan Sykes and the lawyers in the matter with a view of having the challenge reconvened in the Supreme Court so that submissions can be made on the case.

In the 1599 case the Privy Council overturned an exclusive licence granted by the then Queen Elizabeth to Darcey, a member of her court, to import and sell playing cards.

The Privy Council remarked in its ruling that all forms of monopolies are illegal and stifles competition and "promote idleness". The court also noted that monopolies will result in the high cost of whatever product or service is being offered.

This is the second time since June when the matter was reserved for judgement that Wildman will be seeking to bring back the case.

Earlier this month, the case was called up back for submissions to be made on a 1913 case — the 'London Electric Supply Corporation Ltd v Westminster Electric Supply Corporation Ltd' — which was discovered by Wildman.

The lawyers representing the JPS, the energy minister and the Office of Utilities Regulation argued that the 1913 case had no relevance to the matter before the court.

Sykes is expected to make a ruling on the matter in September.

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.

They are asking that the court declare illegal, the 20-year licence that was issued by the minister of energy in 2001 and renewed in 2007.

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