Government, Malawi Mobile case commences at Comesa court

Post was last updated: February 20, 2017

The hearing of a case involving the government and telecommunications company, Malawi Mobile Limited (MML), commenced on Saturday at the Comesa Court of Justice (CCJ) in Khartoum Sudan.

The matter before the Appellate Division of the CCJ is an appeal filed by the government of Malawi challenging a ruling made in 2015 by the Court of First Instance stating that the regional court has no jurisdiction to hear the case.

In 2005, MML sued the government and its agency, the Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (Macra), for revoking its license on the grounds that the company had failed to fulfill its obligations under an agreement they entered into 2002.

Under the said Agreement, MML was required to roll out public mobile radio telephone services in the country for a period of 15 years.

The case was heard in the High Court, Commercial division.

In its judgement, the High Court ruled in favour of MML in respect of loss of profit to the tune of USD 66,850.000 plus costs of the suit.

However, the government and Macra successfully appealed against the ruling at the Supreme Court of Appeal which set aside the judgement of the High Court. This led the MML to seek redress in the CCJ.

According to a Comesa statement issued on Sunday, under Article 26 of the Comesa Treaty, the CCJ has jurisdiction to hear a reference from a legal or natural person resident in a member state concerning the legality of any act, regulation, directive or decision of the Comesa Council or of a member state on the grounds of unlawfulness or infringement of Treaty provisions.

The statement further says after the CCJ admitted the reference of the case, the government filed an application seeking the dismissal of the said reference on the grounds that the regional court does not have jurisdiction to entertain it.

“The government maintained that the alleged act, the subject of the Reference, did not fall within Article 26 of the Comesa Treaty,” reads part of the statement.

The date of the ruling on the application is expected to be communicated to the parties after the conclusion of the current Court sitting in Khartoum.

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