The Federal Court of Australia has today dismissed Vodafone Hutchison Australia’s (VHA) application for judicial review of the ACCC’s conduct in holding a public inquiry and making a draft decision not to declare a domestic mobile roaming service.
The ACCC published the draft decision in May 2017, in which it reached the preliminary view that there was insufficient evidence that the declaration of a wholesale domestic mobile roaming service would promote the long-term interests of end users (LTIE).
On 2 June 2017, Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) applied to the Federal Court seeking judicial review of the ACCC’s conduct in holding a public inquiry and making a draft decision. VHA sought court orders to quash the ACCC’s draft decision and restrain the ACCC from proceeding with the inquiry on the basis of the draft decision.
“The inquiry process is, by its very nature, a broad and flexible tool. It enables the ACCC to approach problems with an open mind and provides ample opportunity for all relevant viewpoints to be shared and given a considered hearing,” said ACCC Chairman Rod Sims.
“It is important that the ACCC is able to thoroughly consider issues and views during the public inquiry process, especially where the ACCC is deciding whether or not to regulate a service.”
“The decision by the Court in dismissing Vodafone’s judicial review application validates the appropriateness of the ACCC’s approach to conducting public inquiries of this nature.”
Telstra was joined as the second respondent and the Court granted Optus leave to intervene in the proceedings. The hearing took place on 27 and 28 September 2017.
The ACCC decided to proceed with the public inquiry while responding to VHA’s application for judicial review. On 23 October 2017, the ACCC released its final report into whether to declare a domestic mobile roaming service and concluded that there was insufficient evidence that declaration would promote the LTIE. It did however identify a range of measures in its accompanying ‘Measures to address regional mobile issues paper’ that could help to improve inadequate mobile phone coverage and poor quality of service in regional Australia.
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