Optus begs court to keep its secrets

Summary:After a lengthy impasse caused by confidentiality concerns, Optus today reached a compromise with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Federal Court, agreeing to submit documents that detail the telco's advertising revenues and customer base.

After a lengthy impasse caused by confidentiality concerns, Optus today reached a compromise with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Federal Court, agreeing to submit documents that detail the telco's advertising revenues and customer base.

The ACCC took Optus to court in September after it alleged the telco's "Think Bigger" and "Supersonic" advertisements were misleading.

The Federal Court ruled in favour of the ACCC and imposed a three-year injunction preventing the telco from running similar ad campaigns. The court also ordered that Optus send letters to customers who signed onto the plans during the advertising campaigns, explaining the ruling. The court is now deciding on which civil penalties should be bestowed on the carrier.

However, the legal battle reached an impasse in the Federal Court today. The telco's legal counsel said that tendering documents into open court, which Justice Nye Perram wanted to make his decision on, would lead to the exposure of commercial-in-confidence information about how the company does business.

After a lengthy adjournment, Justice Perram agreed to keep the publication of the contested evidence confidential to all but the parties involved until further order.

Acting counsel for Optus, Stephen Finch, said today that justice is served as long as justice serves both parties in a case. Finch said that the exposure of the information contained within the documents would lead to Optus exposing commercially-sensitive information which, he said, would impact Optus more than any penalty judgement from the court.

"If the documents are relevant to the court, they will be put into evidence, and that means others will be looking at them," Finch told Justice Perram.

Justice Perram said that he understood the concerns of the acting counsel, but would, if shown the documents in confidence, have to refer to specific details when handing down his judgement.

Finch said that Justice Perram did not have to refer to the numbers in the document specifically, rather imply that he had been briefed on the details and could make a decision accordingly.

Topics: Legal, Government, Government : AU, Optus, Telcos

About

A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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