News

Round two of JPS licence fight heats up

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

Friday, August 31, 2012    

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PREPARATIONS for round two in the battle over the legality of the Jamaica Public Service's (JPS') all-island licence stepped up yesterday with the filing of a counter appeal to JPS' own filing in the appellate court on Monday.

The counter appeal was filed by former Government Senator Dennis Meadows, Betty-Ann Blaine and Cyrus Rousseau, who were in July successful in having Justice Bryan Sykes strike down the exclusivity aspect of the JPS licence.

The three wanted Justice Sykes to declare the JPS licence invalid on the ground 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.

Sykes, in striking down the exclusive aspect of the licence, held that the energy minister could grant permission to a sole entity to provide electricity to the entire island.

That decision is also being appealed.

"The learned trial judge, by misconstruing the provisions of the Electric Lighting Act, erred in law in holding that the minister is empowered under the said Act to grant a licence to the [JPS] for the supply of electricity over the entire island," the three stated in their grounds of appeal yesterday.

They are seeking a declaration that the all-island exclusive electric licence granted by the energy minister to the JPS in March 2001, "is illegal, null and void, ultra vires the provisions of the Electric Lighting Act and consequently of no legal effect".

The three are also asking the court to rule that the JPS stand the legal costs for the proceedings in the appellate court.

The counter appeal comes on the heels of the light and power company's own appeal on Monday. The JPS is challenging Justice Sykes' decision to void the exclusive aspect of its licence.

JPS President and CEO Kelly Tomblin said in a release yesterday that the company had no choice but to appeal.

"We have filed the appeal, as we said we would, because the judge's ruling has implications for the contract signed between the Government and JPS' majority shareholders. It's simply a necessary step to protect the company's contract and legal rights," she said.

Tomblin said also that the company will be contesting the $24-million bill of costs filed by the three for the proceedings in the Supreme Court.

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