Friday, July 19, 2024

“Multichoice Contests Court’s Ruling Over N150m Penalty During Subscription Fee Hike”

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Multichoice Nigeria has formally contested a recent ruling by the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal (CCPT), which imposed a fine of N150 million and mandated a “free monthly subscription order” against the company. The appeal, lodged with the Court of Appeal in Abuja, aims to overturn the CCPT’s decision, citing several key arguments.

In its notice of appeal, Multichoice asserts that the CCPT “erred in law” in its handling of the case, claiming the Tribunal made legal errors. Multichoice’s primary grievances revolve around procedural fairness and the alleged misapplication of legal principles.

Firstly, Multichoice argues it was denied a fair hearing. The company contends that the Tribunal levied a significant fine without allowing its legal team adequate opportunity to present its case regarding the contentious price adjustments.

Secondly, Multichoice challenges the Tribunal’s jurisdiction over the matter, arguing it should not have adjudicated a complaint that had not been formally addressed by the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Council (FCCPC). Multichoice cites precedent where similar issues were resolved differently, asserting that the Tribunal’s involvement violated established legal procedures.

Multichoice also disputes the severity of the penalties imposed, particularly the N150 million fine and the requirement for a free month of subscription. The company argues these measures were imposed without adequate consultation or consideration of its subscribers’ perspectives, and were not requested by the complainant.

Critically, Multichoice alleges the Tribunal’s decision was unduly influenced by non-legal factors. It claims sanctions were hastily imposed based on irrelevant considerations rather than a thorough examination of legal and regulatory frameworks.

Moreover, Multichoice maintains the Tribunal failed to address pending applications related to its pricing policies before issuing its final judgment. The company argues these procedural oversights undermine the fairness and legitimacy of the Tribunal’s actions.

Additionally, Multichoice asserts regulatory matters concerning pricing policies should fall exclusively under the purview of regulatory bodies such as the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), not a tribunal.

Lastly, Multichoice clarifies it has not ignored any Tribunal orders but exercised its right to challenge jurisdiction and procedural fairness. The company seeks the Court of Appeal’s intervention to overturn the CCPT’s June 7, 2024 judgment and associated orders.

In response to Multichoice’s appeal, the CCPT has expressed intent to carefully review the company’s arguments, acknowledging the potential involvement of regulatory bodies like the NBC in addressing underlying regulatory concerns.

Multichoice’s appeal underscores a complex legal dispute involving regulatory oversight, procedural fairness, and penalty application. The outcome at the Court of Appeal hinges on its interpretation of these critical issues and their broader implications for Multichoice and regulatory governance in Nigeria’s telecommunications sector.

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