19 Sep 2014

Chorus lawyers say advice flawed

2:16 pm on 19 September 2014

Chorus has legal opinions from two law firms contradicting advice the corporate regulator has received from two barristers about Chorus's proposals for the new broadband-over-copper-wire services.

The Commerce Commission's advice from barristers David Laurenson, QC, and James Every-Palmer was that Chorus' proposals would probably breach the Telecommunications Act.

That is because they do not apply the rules in good faith and are inconsistent with the core principles of a regulated service.

The commission sought these opinions after Telecom, now known as Spark, suggested that the new services would breach the act.

However, an opinion from Chapman Tripp said the advice to the commission is flawed because it misconstrued the meaning of good faith.

Chapman Tripp said good faith can mean no more than honest co-operation in relation to the services in question.

Another opinion from MinterEllisonRudd Watts said the commission's advice is based on incomplete information and it misinterpreted previous decisions made under a different regulatory regime.

The law firm said the advice also made a fundamental error by characterising line speed and through-put as essentially the same.

Chorus said a battle of public legal opinions is a major distraction and hoped the commission would consider the wider market context in its decision making.

The telephone lines company said there have been monumental changes in the telecommunications market since it was separated from Telecom nearly three years ago.

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