In the TRA’s continued effort to improve and implement regulations in the telecommunications sector and position itself as a role model for regulation, the Authority has issued a consultation document of guidelines for setting the amount of fines for violations of Articles 35 and/or 65 of the Telecommunications Law called “the Fining Guidelines”.
The Fining Guidelines establishes the methodology to be followed by the Authority to determine the quantum or amount of a fine after the Authority’s determination that a violation has occurred and a fine should be imposed.
The Fining Guidelines do not determine whether a violation has occurred, or whether a fine should be imposed in the first place. The objectives of the Guidelines are to allow for transparent and non-discriminatory fining practice and to ensure that adequate account is taken when calculating the quantum of the fine with regards to proportionality, objective justification, adequate deterrence and regard for the principle of justice and equality.
In the development of the Guidelines, the Telecom Law was considered in the first place along with several bench marks, such as: EU, UK, France, Germany, Singapore and New Zealand.
The scope of the Guidelines was meant to cover two parts: The first sets out the methodology to be followed by the TRA when determining the amount of a fine for engaging in anti-competitive conduct under Article 35 or 65. The second sets out the methodology to be followed by the TRA when determining the amount of a fine for all other violations of the Article. 35 (violations of the Telecommunications Law, licence or regulations not involving anti-competitive conduct).
Mr. Ahmed Alabsi, Manager of Legal Affairs, had this to say, “The main call to issue these guidelines is to have justified fines that are in line with the justice and equality principles and to be transparent with everyone on how we calculate the quantum of fines. It was also one of the FLAG Arbitration panel’s recommendations. I believe some operators have shown interest in such guidelines previously too.”
Mr. Alabsi also added “We expect receiving valuable comments on the draft from the operators, as usual. It’s also worth noting that we are the first in the region to have fining guidelines.”