Telstra wins two court rulings, has another impending

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Telstra wins two court rulings, has another impending

Despite a recent win for Telstra in its battle to clear itself of anti-competitive behaviour, Chime Communications has notified the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) of an access dispute with Telstra under Part XIC of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

The access dispute relates to future arrangements of supply of the Line Sharing Service from Telstra to Chime beyond 31 December 2007.

The Line Sharing Service involves an access provider providing a voiceband PSTN service to an end-user, whilst providing access to another carrier to simultaneously provide services to the same end-user over the high-frequency portion of the unconditioned local loop.

The ACCC has begun the arbitration process for this access dispute. Given that the legislation contemplates that arbitrations be conducted in private, it will not be making any public comment at this stage.

The telecommunications giant is yet to make a statement to the media on this matter also.

However, things are looking up for Telstra, not only did the Federal Court dismiss the ACCC’s case against Telstra on anti-competitive behaviour, it has also had a class action against Telstra approving the settlement of the claim and awarding judgment for Telstra.

Telstra's Group General Counsel, Will Irving, said the class action should never have been started, and the settlement was in the best interest of Telstra's shareholders because it was less costly than presenting Telstra's strong legal position to the court.

"As a result of our experience in this case, I support recent calls for tighter regulation of the people who promote these types of claims. Telstra was left in the position of expecting a judgment in its favour after trial, with little chance of recovering its costs. Those who profit from commencing these actions should also be exposed to costs orders if they lose."

Slater & Gordon will now be responsible for distributing the $5 million settlement fund. They will allocate a quarter of that amount to payment of their legal costs and will divide the rest between up to 30,000 eligible shareholders. If all eligible shareholders participate in the settlement scheme, then the payment to each will be less than one cent for every share purchased in the period.

The payment by Telstra represented 1.7 per cent of the $300 million said to be claimed.
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