DUTCH CARIBBEAN COURT DECISION IN TELECOM CASE

Scarlet about to enter telecom market in Sint Maarten

On 18 November 2008, the Administrative Court in Sint Maarten ruled that the Executive Council of Sint Maarten was not authorized to refuse Scarlet a business license for the provision and operation of international telecommunications services in Sint Maarten (click here for the judgment).

Scarlet, represented by Dr. Douwe Boersema of the law firm Spigthoff in Curaçao, appealed through the courts against the decision of the authorities in Sint Maarten to deny it such a license based on a moratorium on new telecom companies. The moratorium had been effectuated by Sint Maarten in October 2002.

The Court ruled that the moratorium was unlawful, based on the fact that Sint Maarten did not have the authority to rule on telecommunication issues. In accordance with legislation, only the Governor of the Netherlands Antilles has that authority.

Considering the decision by the Netherlands Antilles Council of Ministers to liberate the market for international telecommunications in the Netherlands Antilles as a whole, Sint Maarten could not restrict the entrance of new telecom companies to the island. The Court instructed Sint Maarten to re-consider Scarlet’s request for a business license, without allowing telecom interests to weigh in the matter.

This ruling is a major breakthrough for telecom companies that wish to offer services for long distance telecommunications. It will again force the existing telecommunications companies on Sint Maarten, like Telem and Telcell to cooperate, as was previously the case prior to the moratorium, with other companies operating on Sint Maarten.

Karel Frielink
Attorney (Lawyer) / Partner

 

See also The Daily Herald.

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