Commission has recently published recommendations to revamp the Electronic
Communications Code (the Code).
The Code was enacted in 1984 with the aim of striking a balance between the
rights of telecoms companies to install, retain and maintain telecoms equipment
on land owned by others on the one hand and the rights of the landowners
themselves on the other.
The Code in
its current form has been criticised by the courts and the people who work with
it as being out of date, unclear and inconsistent with other legislation and so
became the focus of review as part of the government’s superfast broadband
strategy in September 2011.
that the Law Commission have specifically recommended are;
· Leases granted for the purpose of conferring rights
under the Code should not fall within the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 but
should continue unless terminated in accordance with a new termination process
(this aims to remove the inconsistency between the Code and the Landlord and
Tenant Act 1954);
· Compensation paid to landowners by operators should
be linked directly to the market values. It is hoped this will give landowners
greater confidence in negotiating with operators, and give operators a better
idea of what their network is likely to cost. It is hoped that this will ensure
that landowners are not taken advantage of, and that operators are not held to
ransom. This should give some balance to the issue of not prejudicing
landowners rights against the public interest in having access to high quality
· All agreements entered into under a revised Code
should be assignable as of right. It is hoped this will assist operators in
delivering the services and technology their customers demand, as assignment
will enable rights to be transferred between operators much more efficiently.
· Telecoms operators should have the ability to share
or upgrade equipment without Landowner consent, but only where the operator had
exclusive possession of a physical structure; the sharing or upgrading cannot
be seen from outside the structure; and it imposes no burden on the Landowner.
generally the Law Commission have recommended that the Code is updated to;
resolve the inconsistencies between the current
Code and other legislation;
clarify the rights of landowners to remove network
equipment from land;
improve the procedure for resolving disputes under
these recommendations (if implemented) will bring the clarity and certainty to
landowners and operators in this field remains to be seen but it is hoped that
a revamped Code will provide a more user friendly method of regulating the
installation and retention of telecoms equipment for both telecoms companies
and landowners, which can only be a good thing.