Power licence not exclusive
KINGSTON — The Supreme Court yesterday ruled that the all-island licence held by the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) is not exclusive, paving the way for other players to enter the market for distribution of electricity.
The ruling by Justice Bryan Sykes was immediately hailed by Hugh Wildman, attorney for the claimants, as a major victory. “It is a major victory, because the claimants have been able to break the monopoly licence,” Wildman told reporters following the handing down of the ruling.
“What the court is saying is that the exclusive nature of the licence is illegal; that is what this judgement has done. We have succeeded in the main declaration,” said the attorney.
Yesterday, Justice Sykes told the court that the minister had the right to grant a licence to a single light and power provider to cover the entire island, but that the minister does not have the power to grant a licence on terms that preclude him from considering any other applicant. “That is not what Section 3 [of the Electric Lighting Act of 1890] in my view, intended. The exclusive licence to JPS did that,” said the high court judge.
Said the judgement: “The minister does not have the power to grant a licence upon terms that bars the possibility of any other person entering the market for transmission of electricity. The term of JPS’ licence granting it exclusive right to transmit electricity is not valid.”
Michael Hylton, QC, who appeared for the JPS, told the Jamaica Observer that his client would be appealing Justice Sykes’ ruling. (Observer)