UK: The New Electronic Communications Code Gets Put To The Test

Last Updated: 25 January 2019
Article by Clyde & Co LLP

Most Read Contributor in UK, March 2019

Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd v University of London [2018] UKUT 356 (LC) is the first substantial case on the new Electronic Communications Code (the Code), which has provided some much needed clarity for landowners and operators. The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) (UT) was asked to decide whether to impose an agreement allowing access to a building for the purpose of determining whether it was a suitable site for the installation of electronic communications apparatus.

Statutory background

The Code came into force on 28 December 2017, replacing the original telecommunications code. The Code sets out the basis on which electronic communications operators may exercise rights – referred to as "Code rights" - to deploy and maintain electronic communications apparatus on, over and under land.

Under the Code it is possible, subject to various conditions, for an operator to seek an order for interim Code rights. These are Code rights granted for a limited period of time which do not benefit from the statutory continuation provisions.

Facts

Having been forced to move equipment from one of its sites near Paddington station, Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd (the Operator) had been relying on a temporary site to keep the local communications network running. The Operator therefore approached the University of London (UoL), requesting access to survey a student hall in Paddington to determine whether it would be a suitable site to permanently install its electronic communications apparatus.

UoL did not want the apparatus on its building and refused to grant the Operator access to survey the site. Following further similar approaches and a subsequent stand-off, the Operator applied to the tribunal for an order for interim Code rights.

UT decision

There were three issues before the UT:

Is a right of access to undertake a survey a Code right?

The UT held that access to survey land and buildings is a right to which paragraph 3 of the Code (which sets out Code rights) applies.

In so doing, the UT concluded that the rights to install equipment and carry out associated works in paragraphs 3(a) and (d) of the Code must be interpreted widely, so that it encompassed the preparatory works which the Operator sought. Giving judgment, Martin Rodger QC, Deputy President of the UT, noted that to do otherwise would undermine the key principle of the Code, namely to deliver communications networks quickly and economically to the public.

Is an operator entitled to request an interim right without also, at the same time, seeking a permanent right?

UoL argued that an application for an order imposing interim rights was contingent on an application for an order seeking permanent rights. However, the UT looked at the language of paragraph 26 of the Code and concluded that there was no requirement for the Operator to seek a permanent right at the same time as it sought an interim right.

Had the claim for interim rights been made out in this case?

The UT confirmed that an application for interim Code rights under paragraph 26 of the Code would only be granted if the Operator has a "good arguable case" that the conditions prescribed by paragraph 21 for the making of an order under paragraph 20 of the Code have been met, namely:

  1. The prejudice caused to the site provider (here UoL) by the order is capable of being adequately compensated by money; and
  2. The public benefit likely to result from the making of the order is likely to outweigh the prejudice to UoL.

On the facts of this case, the UT held that the Operator had demonstrated a good arguable case that this test had been satisfied. In coming to this decision it made the following observations:

  • As part of its case, UoL quantified the costs it would incur for each site visit undertaken by the Operator, which showed that the prejudice could be compensated by money;
  • The Operator was not required at that stage to adduce evidence concerning the amount of compensation or consideration that might be due;
  • The Operator was not required to speculate about any particular prejudice that will be caused to UoL which they had not chosen to identify; and,
  • The second limb of the test does not require a comparison to be made between the public benefit that would arise from the use of the site in question and another site, which is clearly operator-friendly.

In conclusion, the UT held that as the agreement sought by the Operator was limited to a right of access during a limited period, the public interest outweighed the fairly small prejudice to UoL (which could be financially compensated).

Accordingly, the UT made an order imposing an agreement for interim Code rights. This enabled the Operator to undertake the surveys and investigations required to establish whether the building was suitable for the installation of electronic communications apparatus.

Comment

This decision confirms that the Code prioritises the provision of a choice of high-quality electronic communications services to the public, often at the expense of individual landowners.

The case did not discuss the consideration that would be due to UoL in relation to the interim rights, which will be a key concern for landowners going forwards.

The article first appeared in our Real Estate Bulletin - January 2019.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions