Unison Networks appeal dismissed
Issued 24 August 2005/no 015
Networks appeal dismissed:
Commission can proceed to decide on intention to declare control
The Court of Appeal today dismissed an appeal by Unison Networks Limited that sought to prevent the Commerce Commission deciding whether to publish an intention to declare control of the company’s electricity lines activities.
The Commission is currently undertaking a post-breach inquiry of Unison’s performance and behaviour following Unison’s breach of the thresholds set by the Commission under Part 4A of the Commerce Act.
In dismissing the appeal, Justice Young – giving the Court’s reasons – stated that:
“We can hardly ignore the reality that utility operators often (and perhaps usually) resort to litigation when affected by regulatory action.”
Justice Young noted that regulatory processes could be distorted if the courts insist that a challenge to one step in a statutory procedure must be fully resolved before any subsequent procedural steps can be completed.
“It would be wrong to overlook the broad public interest associated with the smooth implementation of regulatory processes contemplated by Parliament,” Justice Young added.
“Given the scale of the industry and indeed of Unison’s own activities, a deferral of what might be a merited declaration of control is likely to have adverse consequences which equate or exceed the detriment to Unison.”
Commission Chair Paula Rebstock welcomed the judgment and said the Commission will now proceed to decide whether to publish an intention to declare control of Unison’s electricity lines business.
Commission media releases can be viewed on its web site www.comcom.govt.nz