Tonga Government settles legal dispute with broadband company

Photo: SLM

A confidential settlement agreement has been reached between the Government of Tonga and Kacific Broadband Satellites Group (Kacific), who have agreed to end litigation over a multi-million contract dispute. 

Tonga Wires reports that a Government spokesperson said they were pleased to have reached a settlement agreement with Kacific and looked forward to developing a positive relationship with them.

“While the terms of the agreement are confidential, both parties are satisfied with the outcome and look forward to working together in the future.

“We believe this settlement is in the best interest of Tonga and its people and are committed to working collaboratively with Kacific to achieve our mutual goals.”

At the same time, Kacific CEO, Christian Patouraux said “we are delighted to have resolved our differences with the Government of Tonga and are excited about the prospect of working together.

“We believe that this agreement represents a significant step forward in our relationship and look forward to building a strong and mutually beneficial partnership with the Government of Tonga, for the benefit of all the people of Tonga”

Kacific previously came to Tonga’s aid during a January 2019 cable outage, when it provided emergency broadband services to ensure critical national services could continue. It claimed it had not been paid for providing that service.

The company based in Singapore, took legal proceedings to recover a fee of USD$5.76 million it claimed was owed by a Tonga government entity, Tonga Satellite Ltd. (The board of TSL included the Prime Minister and other Cabinet ministers).

The Tonga Government moved to deregister Tonga Satellite Ltd from the business register, after the proceedings began on 19 January 2021, but that failed. Kacific Broadband Satellites International Ltd. succeeded in its civil application to the Tonga Supreme Court to have the government company restored to the register, in order to pursue its claims. On 02 June, 2021 Lord Chief Justice Whitten ordered that Tonga Satellite Limited was to be restored to the Tongan Register of Companies. This meant that Kacific could continue its arbitration against TSL and the Government of Tonga. Its court action against the Kingdom of Tonga, was previously scheduled to be heard in Singapore in April 2023.