Tomorrow (Thursday, 24th June) sees the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) beginning its hearing of an application to bring a lawsuit against BT that could be worth up to £600 million.
Thursday’s hearing is set to determine two major features of the case: which claimants will be included in the class, and who will be certified to represent them. If Mr Le Patourel, who is bringing the case against BT, is certified then the case will go to full trial.
If he goes on to win the case, up to 2.31 million customers who took a landline from BT but did not bundle this with a broadband service, could receive up to £500 compensation each.
The case is being brought on an ‘opt-out’ basis, meaning that affected BT customers do not need to do anything to be included in the claim, but can choose to opt out if they wish.
Says Justin Le Patourel:
“The speed of this hearing suggests the Competition Appeals Tribunal is aware of the significance this important class action. I am hopeful that I will be allowed to take the case forward, and to represent the millions of people I believe were ripped off by BT”.
The CAT will also consider whether the representatives of the estates of those who have passed away since the initial Ofcom judgement in 2017 can be included in the claim.
Justin Le Patourel and the consumer group CALL (Collective Action On Landlines) are being advised by leading law firm, Mishcon de Reya. Says Rob Murray, the partner leading the action:
“Ofcom found that BT had been overcharging its standalone landline customers and so BT agreed to reduce its line rental by £7 per month from 2018. But it did not offer compensation for overcharging that took place prior to this, meaning that many customers are still out of pocket.
“Moreover, BT knows that many of these people are older, poorer and more vulnerable. Many have unfortunately passed away since they were overcharged. This case will help to put matters right between BT and its loyal landline customers.”
Adds Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Advocacy and Policy:
“Effective collective redress is something Which? has long campaigned for, and while no claim under the regime has reached a full trial yet, it is encouraging to see this case against BT progress, and hopefully be allowed to proceed to a full trial.
“If successful, this opt-out action would be good news for many BT customers who were found to have been historically overcharged for years, but saw no refund as a result.”
Updates on the hearing can be found on all of the Collective Action on LandLines (CALL) social media channels (including Facebook and Twitter) and on the CALL website.