Mobile phone masts - have your say

4 July 2012

Many of us use mobile telecommunications devices on a regular basis.  Unsurprisingly, perhaps, few of us think about the laws that enable us to ring our family and friends and to conduct business from some of the remotest of locations.  In fact, making that important Mother’s Day call may depend on an electronic communications operator installing telecommunications equipment on somebody’s land without their consent. 

What allows the operator to do this is the Electronic Communications Code.  On 28 June 2012, the Law Commission published a Consultation Paper on the Code, which has invited responses by 28 October 2012.  Although the Code applies throughout the United Kingdom, this particular project relates to the law of England and Wales. 

The Code regulates the use of networks that support broadband, mobile internet and telephone, cable television and landlines.   As computer access becomes as important in our society as the use of a watch, it is difficult to imagine regulations of more significance than the Code to the daily lives of most of the population.  

The primary purpose of the Consultation Paper is to improve the balance between the rights and obligations of the communication operator and the rights and obligations of others, in particular the landowner upon whose property the equipment is installed.  The authors of the Consultation Paper invite comments on the following:

  1. The rights of operators and landowners under the Code and the position of third parties. 
  2. The operator’s obligations under the Code and related regulations. 
  3. The test applied to determine whether Code rights are granted to an operator where a landowner objects.  At the moment, an operator has the power to apply to the court for an order to dispense with the need for the agreement of the landowner for the installation of equipment on their property. 
  4. Where a court orders a landowner to permit equipment to be installed on their property, it may also make a consequential financial award to the landowner. The measure of this financial award is also a matter for consultation. 
  5. The appropriate forum for the resolution of disputes and other procedural issues. 
  6. The interaction between the Code and other statutory regimes.  The relationship between the Code and Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 is particularly uneasy.

The responses to the Consultation Paper will be analysed to produce a Report containing recommendations to Government.  Kingsley Napley LLP will be taking part in the Consultation process and our response will appear on this blog when they are submitted.  If you would like to provide us with some comments yourself, we shall be pleased to take these into account in preparing the response.

 

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