We were interested to read that six UK telecoms companies have appeared in court this month to challenge Government rule changes over GSM Gateways which they claim were unlawful.
The litigation has been rumbling on since 2009 when former GSM Gateway operator VIP Communications filed a £625 million damages claim against T-Mobile. Terminated by T-Mobile in 2004 for selling GSM Gateways, VIP lodged its damages claim after the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Ofcom in its case against fellow GSM Gateway operator Floe Telecom. At that time it was made clear the decision was based strictly upon UK contract law, and was not required to consider compatibility issues between UK and EU law on use of CE-stamped GSM Gateways
This month VIP Communications Ltd, Floe Telecom, EasyAir, Edge Telecommunications, Packet Media and Recall Support Services are back in court. They are collectively seeking damages totalling £415 million in relation to the “unlawful” 1999 Government ban on commercial GSM Gateway services – using GSM Gateway equipment as part of a commercial communication service to another person or organisation. T-Mobile and Vodafone have repeatedly backed the ban, saying it causes “harmful interference” on their respective networks. It is counter claimed that the use of GSM Gateways does not cause interference to operator services.
The claimants argue the GSM Gateways ban goes against EU law, as the business model is still a legal trade in Europe. According to EU treaty, all member states must abide by the same directives, and under EU law, every individual has the right to seek compensation for action of national authorities that could be in violation of EU law.
We watch with interest to see the results of this latest case which should be decided within the week.