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TSTT WINS MAJOR LEGAL VICTORY AGAINST DIGICEL IN LONDON COURTS

Trinidad - After a 77 day trial, Justice Morgan, a Chancery Court judge in England, today delivered a landmark decision dismissing all claims brought by Digicel against TSTT. The lawsuit, in which Digicel initially sought at least US$50million in damages alone from TSTT for allegedly delaying Digicel’s interconnection in Trinidad and Tobago, was dismissed. The dismissal followed proceedings filed by Digicel in 2007 against TSTT and several Cable and Wireless companies that arose from the liberalization of the telecommunications markets in the Caribbean.

In Trinidad and Tobago, TSTT was under a statutory duty to facilitate the interconnection process with any new network provider and to act in a non-discriminatory manner. It was alleged that notwithstanding this obligation, TSTT deliberately impeded and delayed Digicel’s launch of competing networks in Trinidad and Tobago and it was initially alleged that this was orchestrated by Cable & Wireless. These acts were said to have delayed Digicel’s entry into the Trinidad and Tobago market from 30 December 2005 to 6 April 2006.

Digicel however, amended its claim in several material respects on a number of occasions during the course of the trial. By the end of the trial, many of Digicel’s points against TSTT had been abandoned, so much so that their modified claims had little or no correlation to their originally pleaded case.

Following the changes in Digicel’s case, the claim against TSTT was based solely upon breaches of the Protection Against Unfair Competition Act 1966 (PAUC). Digicel cited a series of allegations of specific conduct, which they claimed amounted to a breach of the PAUC. TSTT strenuously denied that it had delayed the interconnection process.

After reviewing the evidence of many witnesses and thousands of pages of documents, Justice Morgan determined that there were only two specific instances in which TSTT’s actions were in breach of the PAUC. Notwithstanding those, the Court decided that these were not sufficient to uphold Digicel’s claims. Justice Morgan determined that Digicel failed to establish:

? that it suffered any loss or damage as a result of any action taken by TSTT or ? that it had any real or substantial chance that interconnection would have been completed before 31 March 2006 and so, dismissed the case.

Despite the two findings by Justice Morgan in relation to TSTT, no parties, including the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) placed any reliance on the representations that were the subject of the adverse findings.

“This was the largest legal claim ever made against TSTT in its entire history” said Lisa Agard, TSTT’s Vice President Legal and Executive Vice President Mobile Services. She also noted that the company could feel justly proud of defending itself in a case of this magnitude. To put it into context she said, “The claim far exceeded the operating profit of TSTT in any given year. We are extremely pleased with the outcome of the decision as once again TSTT has been vindicated in relation to the interconnection process which took place in Trinidad and Tobago”.

With this latest victory by TSTT, Digicel has yet to succeed in a series of claims brought against the national company in relation to interconnection. TSTT is vindicated despite many attempts by Digicel to castigate the company as a result of interconnection. Furthermore, with TATT already presiding over three arbitrations dealing with interconnection, all of which TSTT has won, coupled with the victorious outcome for TSTT in the London Courts, TSTT is confident that there is no basis whatsoever for any investigation by TATT and justifiably, considers the matter, closed.

“We have and will continue to embrace the competitive environment.” continued Agard. “We look forward to continuing with the real battle which lies within the market place, as opposed to within a court of law” she added.