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Digicel loses case against C&W

Steve Dinneen
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DIGICEL has lost its landmark legal battle against bitter rival Cable & Wireless Communications.

A judge ruled that Digicel, headed up by Irish telecoms tycoon Denis O’Brien, was not unlawfully delayed from breaking into the emerging Caribbean telecoms market.

The case focused on claims that Cable & Wireless had breached the telecoms statutes in Barbados, Cayman, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada and the Turks & Caicos Islands.

However, a judge dismissed all but one of the allegations. He found a minor breach of contract in an agreement struck in Turks & Caicos but ruled it caused no delay to Digicel and thus no loss.

The case was heard over 77 days in the High Court and heard evidence from 43 witnesses.

Tony Rice, Cable & Wireless chief executive said: “This is a resounding victory for Cable & Wireless Communications. This case has been a pointless waste of time and money. It was brought by Digicel on the eve of our annual meeting in July 2007 amid a fanfare of publicity and a statement that its claim was for several hundreds of millions of pounds. We maintained throughout that Digicel’s case was baseless, and the UK High Court has now vindicated this. I am delighted that we have won and are now free from this unnecessary distraction.”

Digicel said it was disappointed with the decision and blamed the outcome on the weak regulatory frameworks in place in Caribbean jurisdictions. O’Brien was one of the fiercest critics of the Independent newspaper when he became a major shareholder in its parent company Independent News & Media.