On September 1st the Intelsat bankruptcy court is scheduled to hold a pre-trial hearing on the SES claim for a greater share of the FCC’s incentive payments due from the C-band clearing process and auction. SES, in a filing to the court on August 25th, is asking that the actual trial scheduled for September 20th be started on that date and not further adjourned or postponed.
SES suggests that a trial over Zoom could ease challenges for all concerned and save case witnesses from both sides having to travel to Richmond, Virginia along with “hundreds of people” including lawyers and other experts involved with commensurate financial savings. A fixed date and remote Zoom hearing “Would give the parties some certainty; given the unpredictable trajectory of the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on in-person proceedings, there is no guarantee that an adjournment would make it possible to proceed in person anytime in the near future.”
SES argues: “There is no good cause to further delay the trial in this case. To the contrary, as both parties have previously expressed and as the rules underscore, there are numerous reasons to resolve this case promptly and prevent further delay.”
The core to SES’s argument is that the trial is needed in order to clear the ground for Intelsat’s own new Exit Plan submitted to the court earlier this week. “Both parties, along with the numerous creditors that would be affected by any undue delay and all stakeholders in these Chapter 11 cases, will benefit from the efficient and speedy resolution of this matter,” SES says.
The bankruptcy court has already ruled that the Claims Trial must begin no later than October 30th. SES told the bankruptcy court that the Sept 20 date is the result of discussions and accommodations between the parties. SES told the court: “The senior executives of SES – up to and including the CEO – have cleared busy schedules and begun preparing for trial. Intelsat and third-party witnesses have confirmed their availability. Lead trial counsel for SES moved other trials to make way for a September 20th date in this case, and he now has three other trials scheduled between November 2021 and May 2022. Identifying a new trial date that will (again) “accommodate the respective schedules of each Party and the Court’s calendar” will likely prove exceedingly difficult and will require even more delay.”
Moreover, SES suggests that a remote Zoom trial may now be the only solution. It says that everyone – including the court – had assumed normality would return, including courtrooms reopening, towards the end of June. Now, as recently as August 19th, the court says it cannot say when it would again have people present.