Alarm monitoring companies should be required to notify faults to installers

business
Alarm Monitoring Companies Should Be Required To Notify Faults To Installers Alarm Monitoring Companies Should Be Required To Notify Faults To Installers
A High Court judge has said the security industry watchdog could consider imposing a duty on alarm monitoring companies to provide automatic notification of faults to alarm installers. Photo: File image
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High Court reporters

A High Court judge has said the security industry watchdog could consider imposing a duty on alarm monitoring companies to provide automatic notification of faults to alarm installers.

Mr Justice Richard Humphreys made the suggestion when giving judgment for some €148,000 in an action by an alarm installer against a monitoring service for non-payment under a commission arrangement between the two firms.

Action Alarms Ltd, trading as Action Security Systems, sued monitoring service, Top Security Ltd, for breach of contract over the non-payment of commission after January 2009 when Action itself got into the alarm monitoring business.

The judge, in granting judgment against Top, said there was a need for continuous communication between a monitoring company and a company which installed any given alarm as to the status of the physical connection of the alarm, even if the commercial relationship between those two entities has otherwise faltered.

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The defendant in this case, Top, had argued there is no contractual or regulatory obligation on it to inform an alarm company of any defect in the communication with the monitoring station.

The judge said he would encourage any monitoring company to send out activity reports in near real time to all alarm companies whose alarms are affected, even if they don’t have a positive working relationship with any of those companies.

Compromised security

"Failure to do so could mean that the system might not be corrected in a timely manner, that security would be compromised, and indeed that monitoring was being charged for without the service being provided," he said.

While there was no obligation imposed on monitoring companies by the Private Security Authority to notify faults, the judge said he "would respectfully suggest that the Authority might consider whether this duty should be imposed" and, and perhaps the parties in this case might draw the Authority's attention to his suggestion.

In saying this, he wanted to make it clear that he was not suggesting in any way that Top was not complying with existing regulatory duties. The case raised a general issue as to what the scope of those duties should be, he said.

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Earlier, the judge said the two Dublin based firms had a business relationship going back to 1986 under which Action encouraged customers to connect to Top's monitoring service for which Top paid Action a substantial commission from customer income.

Monitoring service

The relationship continued without major difficulty until late 2008 or January 2009 when Action decided to set up its own monitoring service and sought to migrate customers to its own service. Most of the customers did move to Action's monitoring service, but some did not.

In relation to those who remained with Top at that point, Top stopped paying commission on the customers introduced by Action, and according to Action, stopped responding to its communications in large measure although not completely.

Action brought its High Court claim over non-payment of commission after January 2009 in March 2014. Top opposed the action.

Mr Justice Humphreys found commission payments obviously no longer arises for customers who did transfer to Action, but the commission continued to be payable in respect of the customers who didn’t transfer and who stayed with Top.

There was no evidence whatsoever that Action failed in its maintenance duties and indeed its positive evidence was that it continued to carry on such duties, he said.

He also did not accept that the parties treated the contract as at an end in 2009.

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