Lawyer seeks to clear 'adverse trace' label from Caricel issue

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, April 07, 2019

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Attorney-at-law Lord Gifford says he will be taking a constitutional motion to the Supreme Court soon to remove the label of “adverse trace” linked with his client, George Neil.

The former Office of the Contractor General (OCG) had linked Neil, a director of Symbiote Investments which has been providing telecommunications services under the brand name Caricel, to the “adverse trace” label in a report tabled in Parliament in 2016.

“I am bringing on his behalf a constitutional motion to say that this constant repetition of the words 'adverse trace' is a violation of his constitutional rights guaranteed under the new charter for freedom of association, associating with who he wants to be in business with, and the new right given by the charter in 2011 — the right to equitable and humane treatment,” Gifford said.

“No one in the course of this case has been able to explain to me what is this 'adverse trace'. What do these words mean? They mean nothing,” an obviously angry Gifford told members of the media at a briefing at Symbiote's head office, Eastwood Avenue, St Andrew, last Wednesday.

“They mean smear? They mean something is wrong with you, without showing any conviction in a criminal court, without showing anything except someone says that Mr George Neil has adverse trace! He, himself, has authorised me to bring this case on his behalf,” Gifford stated.

The Court of Appeal two Fridays ago denied Symbiote Investment Limited's application for a stay of the Minister of Science, Energy and Technology's decision to revoke its telecommunications licences, and set aside the order granting it permission to appeal.

The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), in a statement on the development, said that as a result of the decision, Symbiote is not authorised to own or operate a facility, nor is it permitted to provide telecommunications or other specified services, as defined in the Telecommunications Act, to the public.

The court's decision upheld the December 2018 Supreme Court decision to deny Symbiote's application for leave to apply for judicial review of the minister's decision. The Court of Appeal also refused the company's request that a temporary stay be granted until it makes an application for permission to appeal to the Privy Council.

But the directors of Symbiote, Lowell and Minett Lawrence, told the media briefing at their head office that Caricel Jamaica will continue working for its customers under a new agreement with a local wireless company, Xtrinet.

Gifford said that he was “passionately hopeful” that the status quo can be preserved until the Privy Council hears the case.

“We are not just talking about money, we are talking about a business in a field which is developing every year...and I believe that everyone, for us or against us, would realise that if such a service is suddenly cut off it would be undesirable,” he noted.


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