Over 2.3 million BT customer’s were allegedly overcharged by the telco
The Court of Appeal has dismissed BT’s appeal against a £600m class action compensation claim against the telco.
It comes as BT was alleged to have overcharged over two million of its customers, with the case brought on by London law firm Mischon de Reya, on behalf of Justin Le Patourel.
Le Patourel is the claimant representative and founder of CALL (Collective Action on Land Lines) who launched his case Justin Le Patourel v BT Group Plc and British Telecommunications Plc in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT).
BT has outlined its intention to defend itself against the class action case.
It stems from an investigation carried out by regulator Ofcom in 2017 which found BT had been overcharging its landline customers.
Ofcom found that although the costs of providing landlines had been declining since 2009, BT continued to raise its prices. And while BT agreed to reducing future bills of some of these customers, it didn’t compensate them for the previous overcharging.
BT’s appeal focused on the fact it argued that the case should have been brought on as a “opt-in” basis, which means that any person that wants to join the claim would need to take an active role in proceedings, such as becoming members of the class, which was represented by Le Patourel.
However Le Patourel disputed this, with the Court of Appeal upholding its decision in favour of Le Patourel.
The case is now permitted to go ahead with an “opt-out” basis, with all eligible class members automatically included in the claim unless they opt up.
Le Patourel is seeking to get the 2.3 million customers up to £500 in compensation, if the case is successful.
“I am grateful that the Court of Appeal has found in our favour and we can now proceed to a full trial,” said Le Patourel in a statement.
“Asking people to sign up to legal process which they don’t understand, and which has an uncertain outcome, would almost certainly have led to low levels of engagement.
“This would have made it impossible to secure redress for those affected. Our case, that BT overcharged landline customers, many of whom were elderly and vulnerable, over the course of several years, is very strong. I look forward to progressing this claim as quickly as possible.”
BT hit back in a statement, saying that it will “vigorously defend itself” in the case.
A BT Spokesperson said: “We strongly disagree with the speculative claim being brought against us. We take our responsibilities to customers very seriously and will defend ourselves against any claim that suggests otherwise.
“We take pride in our work on the Customer Fairness agenda. For many years we’ve offered a discounted social tariff in what is a competitive market with competing options available, and, last year we extended that to help a potential four million households on low incomes save on bills and stay connected to vital services now available to access online, on the phone or via our nationwide retail stores.”