Supreme Court backs WAT in dispute with the Liberia Telecommunications Authority

Telecoms

The prolonged legal battle involving the state-owned Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) and West African Telecommunications (WAT) over the legitimacy of WAT’s frequency has ended with the Supreme Court of Liberia ruling against LTA’s previous revocation of WAT’s frequency.

LTA and WAT had been embroiled in an intense legal battle over the revocation of WAT’s assigned frequency on grounds that it enjoys no legitimacy in keeping with the 2007 Liberia Telecommunications Act. The Supreme Court ruling was handed down July 23. The decision by the nation’s highest court came after the LTA had appealed a previous ruling by the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court of Montserrado County in favor of WAT.

During the period of the frequency debate, LTA, then under the chairmanship of Mr. Albert Bropleh, ordered the closure of WAT until it had complied with its mandate. However, the Supreme Court, after conducting a hearing consistent with due process of law, said the LTA Act of 2007 Enforcement Order No. 001, did not amend, modify, suspend or revoke a license which had been granted to the petitioner, WAT.

Instead, the court indicated that LTA’s enforcement order commanded the Ministry of Justice and all enforcement agencies of the Republic of Liberia to seal the premises of the WAT. The Supreme Court further ruled that the action of the LTA against WAT was inconsistent with due process of law, thereby denying the entity its full rights as provided for by statutes.

The highest court of the land also opined that any legislation which does not accord an aggrieved party the constitutional right of due process of law is unconstitutional, and that any act by an administrative agency, including the LTA, which does not guarantee constitutional rights is illegal.

“We hold that this provision, consistent with due process of law, mandates that the aggrieved party will be afforded the opportunity to be heard at a hearing, and that following the hearing and a decision order, or other exercise of the Authority, the aggrieved party may take advantage of the provision of the law. In the absence of the hearing, the petitioner was justified in filing a petition for the Writ of Prohibition,” the Supreme Court records read. The Supreme Court, in its ruling, posited that the final judgment of the Civil Law Court is affirmed, ruling costs against the respondent.

The Liberian Observer