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Property Week quotes Emma Humphreys on the Electronic Communications Code

In June, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling on three court cases involving land ownership and rent on phone masts, with some noting that the judgment provided landowners with more clarity on telecoms operators’ right to update masts located on their property.

Emma Humphreys, Partner, provides comment for Property Week on the Electronic Communications Code:

She comments:

"Last month, the Supreme Court handed down three judgments on the 2017 Electronic Communications Code, which regulates the legal relationships between landowners and electricity network operators. These are a positive step forward, but do not take away from the code’s considerable flaws.

The new code, established almost five years ago, set out new processes for network operators to secure rights to install and maintain apparatus in, over and under land. These are known as code rights.

Since its introduction, the new code has been met with criticism from landowners, mainly because it has led to a significant reduction in the amount of rent operators pay for code rights and the use of property.

In addition, both landowners and operators have found difficulties in operating the code because of a lack of clarity in its provisions.

The Supreme Court dismissed the first appeal, requested further evidence on the second prior to deciding its outcome and allowed the third.

While the decisions provide some further clarity to the parties involved as to how the new code should work, there remain a number of arguments over interpretation when it comes to applying the new code.

Moreover, the costs and delay in achieving this outcome are a frustration for all, given that it is almost five years since the new code was introduced.

Of course, as with any new legislation, an inevitable period of uncertainty is expected as the new code settles down into practice and applies in the real world.

But, at the end of the day, both operators and landowners are continuing to pay the price for hastily passed legislation, which put them on an inevitable path towards disputes rather than collaboration.

More importantly, it is the public who are paying the ultimate price, forced to deal with inadequate mobile and broadband coverage."

Read the full article first published in Property Week here.

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