Pakistan establishes new telecoms tribunal to speed up dispute resolution

The government of Pakistan has established what it calls the Telecommunication Appellate Tribunal, an entity aimed at swiftly addressing and settling disputes within the telecoms sector.

The new body, which has come into being via the Telecommunication Appellate Tribunal Ordinance of 2023, will be composed of three members, including the chairperson, who must either be a judge of a high court or an advocate with 15 years’ experience in the field. One of the members must possess a master’s level professional degree in an area of technology. The other member should have a similar qualification in finance, economics or a related subject.

They can all serve a four-year term, with provisions for reappointment, ending either at the age of 68 or when a term is not renewed.

All ongoing appeals and cases related to the IT and telecom sector being dealt with in the high courts will be transferred to the Telecommunication Appellate Tribunal within a month. Appeals against any decisions made by the Tribunal must be filed at the Supreme Court within sixty days.

The Express Tribune news service says that the establishment of the Tribunal has been a longstanding demand of the telecom sector.

Its duties will include deciding on approved appeals from operators against the decisions of the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). The hope is that this will happen within a 90-day period, as opposed to the slow process of going through the High Court.

This tribunal concept already exists in the country; one has been established to handle disputes in the power distribution sector.

This is an interesting and potentially positive initiative but, of course, only time will tell if the new system, as is hoped, addresses historical inefficiencies and sets a precedent for efficient dispute resolution.