Craig Wireless International Inc. has 60 days from February 18 to ask the Federal Court of Appeal to overturn an Oct. 17, 2003 CRTC decision that allowed Unique Broadband Systems Inc. (UBS) to up its interest in Look Communications Inc. to 51.06% (see box for more information). On February 18, the Federal Court of Canada granted Craig leave to appeal the CRTC decision (RoW, Feb. 25/04). The lawsuit represents yet another step in the Manitoba-based wireless cable TV and Internet service provider’s nearly nine-month fight for control of Look (RoW, Nov. 5/03). In its leave to appeal application, filed on Nov. 17, 2003, Craig Wireless’ counsel states that the commission shouldn’t have been allowed to come to the decision it did when it issued its October 17 decision. "The commission erred in law and breached the principles of natural justice when it approved the application on an ex parte basis and without public notice, and without affording the applicant any opportunity to make representations or file evidence related to the decision before it was made by the commission, despite the commission’s awareness that the applicant had an interest and had concerns to voice with respect to the application," writes Grant Buchanan of the law firm McCarthy Tétrault. Buchanan challenges the commission’s decision to treat Look’s application in a streamlined manner, based on guidelines set out in the Sept. 19, 2003 Broadcasting Public Notice 2003-50. The guidelines allow the CRTC to approve certain applications on an expedited basis without public consultation if there are no policy concerns and provided that approval would be consistent with the commission’s approval of previous applications. The McCarthy Tétrault lawyer contends that if Look’s application allowing UBS to gain control of it had been simple and straightforward, then the CRTC would not have had to order UBS to make changes to its classes of shares and its breakdown of share ownership so Canadian ownership requirements could be met, Buchanan explains in court documents. UBS and Look told the Federal Court in response to Craig Wireless’ leave to appeal that the motion should be denied. "This is a private matter between shareholders and not a matter of public interest to the CRTC or over which the CRTC has jurisdiction," Stephen Zolf, a lawyer with Heenan Blaikie LLP, writes on UBS’ behalf. Zolf also questions Craig Wireless’ motives for waiting four and a half months after the transaction was announced in a May 29, 2003 news release. Craig Wireless "has failed to provide any evidence to support its argument that the CRTC’s decision to consider the application under its streamlined procedure violated their right to procedural fairness, assuming such rights even exist on the facts of this case," he writes in his January response to the leave application. To prove the alleged error in law, writes Zolf, the scope of the CRTC’s duty of procedural fairness to Craig Wireless "must be assessed within the statutory and regulatory context that governs the CRTC and Craig Wireless’ purported interests in the approval."