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The new Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act 2022 (“the Act”) received royal assent on 6 December 2022. Some provisions of the Act are now in force with the remainder expected to come into force later this year.
The Act introduces changes to help landlords/site providers and telecoms operators overcome the current issues delaying consensual agreements pursuant to the Electronic Communications Code in Schedule 3A to the Communications Act 2003 (as amended by Digital Economy Act 2017) (“the Code”). The ultimate aim of the Act (and indeed the Code) is to speed up the process of rolling out network apparatus in the UK to improve network coverage.
The Act has two parts, Part 1: Product Security, and Part 2: Telecommunications Infrastructure. The latter part will have the greatest impact for telecoms network operators, infrastructure providers and site providers because of the changes to the Code which governs their relationship.
There are 8 main areas of the Code changed by virtue of the Act:
One of the most significant changes is to renewals and valuations under the Code. The Act now allows for lease renewals conferring code rights to be assessed in accordance with the ‘no network’ assumption under the Code when assessing the rent payable. The impact will be to lower the rent which may now be charged by landlords/site providers as compared to if rent were to be assessed under the Business Tenancies (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (“the BTO”).
New provisions have been introduced to give the Lands Tribunal powers to order compensation to be paid to landlords/site providers for damage and loss incurred as a result of the exercise of any of the code rights conferred by a new tenancy. There are also provisions allowing for landlords/site providers to claim damages for:
These changes bring the BTO in line with the existing provisions in the Code.
If you would like to seek further information about any of the issues raised in this article, please contact our Commercial Real Estate team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin.
This article has been produced for general information purposes and further advice should be sought from a professional advisor.