Exetel seeks out-of-court Telstra settlement

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Exetel seeks out-of-court Telstra settlement

Deceptive conduct claim stood over.

The Federal Court has stood over a deceptive conduct claim filed against Telstra by ISP Exetel to allow both parties to pursue an agreement out of court.

Exetel filed the claims earlier this month over the substance of communications by Telstra regarding Exetel to a credit agency.

"I am absolutely no fan of almost anything Telstra does, at least in terms of its dealings with Exetel, which is why we have begun to use the courts in an attempt to get redress for the most obvious of their operational inequities," Exetel chief John Linton said in a blog post at the time.

At the first directions hearing today, counsel for Exetel agreed with Justice Moore's summation that the essence of the complaint was that “certain things were said about [Exetel] by Telstra which had certain adverse consequences to [Exetel].”

Exetel was not seeking monetary damages from the case. Rather, it wanted Telstra to take out public advertisements to set the record straight.

The case would potentially require rulings on “whether what Telstra said was wrong” and “if it was wrong whether it constituted misleading and deceptive conduct”, Moore said.

However, Moore suggested “a less orthodox way of dealing with the case” than going to hearings whereby counsel for Exetel would “work out some mechanism where you can seek to persuade Telstra that what they said about you was wrong - so the first box can be ticked as it were - and if so, they [Telstra] can consider what they wish to do.”

“Might it not be better for me to possibly do nothing [today]?” Justice Moore put to counsel for both parties.

“Costs are going to be incurred in drawing together a defence. And if we reach discovery, further costs might be incurred.

“I’m stating the obvious. This case ought to be resolved.”

Exetel’s counsel said the parties were already “in discussion”.

It was considered “a reasonable prospect” that the telco and ISP would “reach an accommodation” by April 20 - the deadline for Telstra to file its defence.

The matter was stood over until April 20.

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