Ruling goes against Spacecom

  • 2011-01-20
  • From wire reports

TALLINN - The Russia-based Spacecom says it will appeal to the Supreme Court a ruling from a circuit court ordering the freight forwarder to pay Estonian Railways millions of euros for using the latter’s infrastructure, reports ERR. The transport company, which was established as an offshoot of Russian giant Severstaltrans Group and transported Russian oil to Estonian ports up to 2008, argues that under EU law, Estonian Railways should not be able to unilaterally set a fee for using its infrastructure.

“Estonia is an EU member state and it is unbelievable that the court’s ruling suggests that the interests of a monopoly, Estonian Railways, take precedence over national legislation,” said Oleg Ossinovski, Spacecom’s CEO. “It is all the more astonishing given that the European Commission has already launched proceedings with regard to the Estonian statute over irregularities in the same matter.”

Ossinovski said the railway infrastructure usage fee that Eesti Raudtee was seeking for the 2004 to 2005 period was about 65 percent higher than the prices established for 2005 to 2006 by the Estonian state under the same rules.
Estonian Railways maintains that infrastructure fees are set by an independent body, which is currently the Technical Surveillance Authority, and are the same for all companies. The falling-out between the infrastructure company and Spacecom came in 2008, when Ossinovski and his company were found guilty by the Supreme Court for attempting to make a price-fixing cartel deal with Estonian Railways.

The Jan. 14 Tallinn Circuit Court ruling also ordered Spacecom to pay interest, which along with court costs swelled its obligation to over 15 million euros. About a third of that sum is secured by a bond deposited with the court.
Estonian Railways’ attorney Leon Glikman told that the circuit court essentially left the county court’s decision from Februrary in place.

Noting that the case is one of the biggest civil judgments of the post-independence period, Glikman said he did not think any major revelations would emerge that would change the grounds on which Spacecom was ordered to pay the 15 million euros.