German telco Yourtel to exit Irish market, High Court hears

Company agrees to order sequestering assets over ‘wilful disobedience’ of earlier order

The court heard Yourtel’s assets were mainly contained in three Bank of Ireland accounts, one containing about €24,000 and the other two containing “paltry” sums.

The court heard Yourtel’s assets were mainly contained in three Bank of Ireland accounts, one containing about €24,000 and the other two containing “paltry” sums.

 

Yourtel, a Germany-based landline phone operator, is pulling out of the Irish market, the High Court has heard.

The company also agreed in court to an order sequestering its assets over “wilful disobedience” of an earlier order to cease billing customers for a service they never received.

Last February, Yourtel agreed to cease activities which had led to it being convicted in the District Court for repeated breaches of telecommunications legislation in relation charging customers, mainly elderly people, for a service most never received.

Communications regulator ComReg had sought orders restraining these activities of the company but the case did not proceed to hearing when Yourtel consented to orders agreeing to desist.

However, ComReg claimed the activities continued and as recently as last week customers were being billed.

ComReg applied before Mr Justice Robert Haughton on Tuesday seeking sequestration of the company’s assets.

Bank accounts

The court heard these assets were mainly contained in three Bank of Ireland accounts in Swords, Co Dublin, one containing about €24,000 and the other two containing “paltry” sums.

Oisín Clarke, for Yourtel, said his client had no difficulty with the order sought by ComReg as the firm intended leaving the Irish market on December 31st next and would not issue any bills to customers between now and then.

Mr Justice Haughton said that as the company was accepting there was “wilful disobedience of an order last February”, this proved sufficient for sequestration.

He said he was not confining the sequestration order to the three accounts but he agreed that once refunds to customers and the sequestrator’s costs had been paid from the main account with €24,000, any excess could be returned to Yourtel.

He appointed liquidator Myles Kirby to undertake the sequestration and said he could begin his work immediately.

Catherine Donnelly, for ComReg, asked for liberty to apply to the court should there be any further breaches. The judge said that order was already in place since February and he saw no reason to repeat it.

He also said he would make no order in relation to Yourtel’s intention to leave the Irish market as it seemed to him that was a “statement of comfort to ComReg that there will be an end to this sorry saga”.

Yourtel, through unsolicited calls, offered discounted services to phone subscribers whose calls were supposed to be charged by the company while Eircom continued to bill for the line rental.

In these cases, however, it was providing no service whatsoever but sent out bills and even used a debt-collection agency to go after unpaid bills.

In December 2017, Yourtel, with an registered Irish address at Kill Avenue, Dún Laoghaire, was fined €66,000 on 89 counts of charging for services customers never received. In June 2017 it was first convicted and fined €2,500 for this activity. In February 2018 it was fined another €3,000 for two more offences.