Altech’s court “hat-trick” in South Africa
Allied Technologies Limited (Altech) announced last week that The Minister of Communications’ urgent application to the Johannesburg High Court for a declarator, that its Notice of Application for Leave to Appeal suspended Altech’s entitlement to an I-ECNS licence, together with an interdict prohibiting the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) from issuing Altech with the licence, was dismissed by Judge Blieden.
Despite having lost the application for leave to appeal on Friday 7th of November at the Pretoria High Court, the Minister of Communications proceeded with the urgent application. In handing down judgment, Judge Blieden stated that the existence of a live ‘Notice of Leave to Appeal’ was an essential aspect of the application that the application was doomed without it. It was therefore dismissed with costs.
Altech’s counter-application requesting the court to order that ICASA issue Altech with its I-ECNS and I-ECS licences was however upheld. Judge Blieden ordered ICASA to deliver the licences to Altech and ordered that the Minister of Communications pay the costs of both applications.
Altech’s Chief Executive Officer, Craig Venter commented “This is now the third court decision in a row, in two separate High Court jurisdictions, that have all emphatically supported the self provision principle.” ‘
Venter added “We sincerely hope that the Minister of Communications is advised not to carry out this fight any further, and allows the industry and its regulator to get on with the business of lowering the South African consumer’s telecommunications tariffs”.
The Minister of Communications, however, still has the right to petition the Supreme Court of Appeals to grant Leave to Appeal the original judgment, although legal sources now believe that she has little chance in prevailing in this matter.
In the meantime Altech has called on ICASA to issue it with the licences, in accordance with the court order. Earlier last week, telecoms companies were celebrating when the bid by Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri to challenge a high court verdict allowing them to build their own networks was rejected.