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The BT class action reaches Court

View profile for Daniel Crook
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BT has been made the subject of a Class Action, backed by over 3 million claimants in the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

The trial commenced on Monday 29th January and is scheduled to last up to 8 weeks.

The Tribunal is considering allegations that BT overcharged millions of (often elderly), customers for the provision of its fixed telephone lines – which were not wrapped in with any broadband packages during the period 2009 and 2017.

It is asserted that those loyal customers were exploited, as the prices charged were above competitive levels.

Ofcom – the Regulator stepped in, following its review, which found that landline customers were getting a poor deal, as compared to those customers with broadband deals. In turn BT reduced its fixed line prices in 2018.

BT denied its pricing structures were anti-competitive – an Appeal which was rejected in May 2022 by the Competition Appeals Tribunal, enabling the claim to go to trial.

BT continues to refute the allegations, arguing that customers placed a value on the BT brand itself, allied with its perceived service levels. Conversely, the Claimants insist that BT exploited their dominant market position and has excessively overcharged millions of customers.

Should the claim succeed, it is anticipated that rebates of around £300 to £400 per customer would be payable.

What is especially interesting to litigation lawyers is that this claim is the first class action lawsuit to go to trial since 2015. At that point the law changed, enabling Class Action law suits to be brought, for alleged breaches of Competition law.

It will be interesting to see how this claim unfolds and whether this area of law develops. Watch this space!