ARCHIVED - Telecom Costs Order CRTC 2002-13

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Telecom Costs Order CRTC 2002-13

Ottawa, 4 October 2002

Action Réseau Consommateur, the Consumers' Association of Canada, and the Fédération des associations coopératives d'économie familiale application for costs - Public Notice CRTC 2001-47

Reference: 8663-C12-04/01 and 4754-199


By letter dated 13 December 2001, Action Réseau Consommateur, the Consumers' Association of Canada, and la Fédération des Associations coopératives d'économie familiale (ARC et al.) applied for costs with respect to their participation in the proceeding initiated by Framework for the expansion of local calling areas and related issues, Public Notice CRTC 2001-47, 27 April 2001 (the PN 2001-47 proceeding) and requested that the Commission fix their costs at $10,943.76, consisting of $2,173.50 for legal fees; $7,970.26 for consultant fees; $200.00 for analyst fees; and $600.00 for disbursements (translation).

Position of parties


ARC et al. submitted that they had met the criteria for an award of costs because they represent a group of subscribers who will be materially affected by the outcome of the PN 2001-47 proceeding; they participated responsibly in the PN 2001-47 proceeding; and they contributed to a better understanding of the issues through their participation in the PN 2001-47 proceeding.


ARC et al. submitted that the appropriate respondents in this case are the incumbent telephone companies.


By way of letters dated 21 December 2001, TELUS Communications Inc. (TCI), Aliant Telecom Inc. (Aliant Telecom), Saskatchewan Telecommunications (SaskTel), Bell Canada on behalf of itself and MTS Communications Inc. (MTS) (Bell Canada/MTS), and in a letter dated 24 December 2001, Télébec ltée (now Société en commandite Télébec (Télébec)) on behalf of itself and Northern Telephone Limited (now Northern Telephone Limited Partnership (Northern)) (Télébec/Northern) [collectively the telephone companies] stated that they did not object to an award of costs to ARC et al.


Bell Canada/MTS, Aliant Telecom and Télébec/Northern submitted, however, that the amount of costs claimed, including in particular the amount with respect to consultant fees, was excessive. Bell Canada/MTS characterised ARC et al.'s comments as brief and superficial, arguing that they did not demonstrate significant analysis or insight into the issues. Bell Canada/MTS further stated that despite having posed numerous interrogatories, ARC et al. failed to refer to the interrogatory responses in their comments.


The telephone companies, except TCI, submitted that the correct amount that should be claimed for the consultant fees was $7,770.26, and not $7,970.26, as stated in the application.


In its letter of reply of 4 January 2002, ARC et al. submitted, among other things, that the general nature of its comments was consistent with the purpose of the PN 2001-47 proceeding which was to assist the Commission to establish a set of principles and criteria to be used in assessing applications for the creation of common local calling areas. ARC et al. also submitted that the fact that they did not refer to their interrogatory responses in their comments did not detract from their value to ARC et al., and possibly to other parties, in formulating their positions.


ARC et al. also rejected Bell Canada/MTS' submission that its comments were superficial, submitting that the fact that its submissions were different from those of other parties should not be interpreted as indicative of a lack of insight or understanding of the issues.


With respect to the amount of fees claimed, ARC et al. submitted that the time spent by counsel and the consultant in, among other things, reviewing the record and consulting with ARC et al.'s various members was necessary to enable it to participate in a meaningful manner. ARC et al. argued that the six days claimed in respect of the consultant were reasonable given the number of the parties and the divergent views that emerged on critical issues.

Commission analysis and determination


The Commission finds that ARC et al. have satisfied the criteria for an award of costs set out in subsection 44(1) of the CRTC Telecommunications Rules of Procedure. Specifically, the Commission finds that ARC et al.: (a) has, or is representative of a group or class of subscribers that has, an interest in the outcome of the proceeding of such a nature that the intervener or group or class of subscribers will receive a benefit or suffer a detriment as a result of the order or decision resulting from the proceeding; (b) has participated in a responsible way; and (c) has contributed to a better understanding of the issues by the Commission.


The Commission considers that this is an appropriate case in which to dispense with taxation and fix costs in accordance with the streamlined procedure set out in New Procedure for Telecom Costs Awards, Telecom Public Notice CRTC 98-11, 15 May 1998.


The Commission notes that certain telephone companies submitted that the amount of costs claimed by ARC et al. was excessive, particularly the costs claimed for the consultant.


With respect to the consultant, the Commission notes that ARC et al. claimed 15.4 hours for the preparation of interrogatories and 27.5 hours for the preparation of comments and reply comments.


ARC et al. posed interrogatories to twelve parties. The Commission considers that these interrogatories were relevant to the proceeding. The Commission also considers that, while the comments and reply comments were not extensive, they did address all the issues identified by the Commission in PN 2001-47, as well as two additional issues that ARC et al. considered to be relevant. The Commission further notes that this proceeding generated an extensive record, and involved a wide range of participants, including cities, municipalities, telephone companies, competitors and the Competition Bureau. Given the voluminous record, the Commission considers that 27.5 hours is a reasonable amount of time for a consultant to review the record, consult with ARC et al.'s members and prepare comments and reply comments.


The Commission agrees with the telephone companies that a calculation error was made in the case of the consultant's claim and that the amount claimed should be $7,770.26, and not $7,970.26 as stated on the application.


The Commission finds that, with the small correction noted above, the amount of costs claimed in respect of the consultant was necessarily and reasonably incurred and should be allowed.


ARC et al. claimed twelve hours for legal fees, including six hours for the preparation of comments. The Commission finds that this time is reasonable.


The Commission finds that the total amount claimed in respect of legal consultant and analyst fees, and for disbursements, was necessarily and reasonably incurred. Accordingly, the Commission considers that the amounts claimed in respect of these fees and disbursements should be allowed.


Given the relatively small amount claimed, and consistent with the Commission's practice when disposing of applications requesting that the Commission fix costs, the Commission finds that the appropriate respondents in this case should be
Bell Canada/MTS and TCI.


In the circumstances, the Commission considers that Bell Canada/MTS should pay 65%, and TCI 35%, of the costs awarded.

Direction as to costs


The Commission approvesARC et al.'s application for costs with respect to its participation in the PN 2001-47.


Pursuant to subsection 56(1) of the Telecommunications Act, the Commission fixes the costs at $10,923.76.


The Commission directs that the award of costs to ARC et al. be paid forthwith by Bell Canada/MTS and TCI according to the proportions set out in paragraph 20.

Secretary General

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Date Modified: 2002-10-04

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