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Telecom move not in interests of justice

By Jock Anderson

Friday 30th June 2000

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Telecom has suffered a setback in a long-running lead-up to a courtroom battle with rival Telstra New Zealand over carrier rebilling.

Refusing Telecom leave to file a counterclaim Justice Rodney Hansen ruled Telecom could not use documents discovered from Telstra as the basis of a counterclaim because it would not be in the interests of justice.

The documents relate to Telstra's management of telecommunications services to Fletcher Challenge.

Telecom alleged the discovered documents showed Telstra misused confidential information, was guilty of misleading and deceptive conduct, altered dates on customer letters of authority and had harmed Telecom's economic interests by unlawful means.

In High Court proceedings started in May, 1999, Telstra claimed Telecom used its allegedly dominant market position to prevent Telstra from competing or to eliminate it from the telecommunication management services market.

The case centres on the termination by Telecom of arrangements.

For the purpose of providing telecommunication management services Telstra New Zealand - a subsidiary of Australian Telstra Corporation - obtains from customers a letter of authority (LOA), which notifies other carriers, including Telecom, that Telstra is acting on behalf of the customer.

One of the practical outcomes of the LOA is that Telecom forwards the bills of customers who sign LOAs to Telstra: hence carrier rebilling.

Last year Telecom announced it would no longer acknowledge Telstra's authority under LOAs executed by customers after March 10, 1999.

The case, originally set down for five weeks in March, was adjourned for a hearing over three months beginning on September 25.

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