Court of Appeal allows landline class action case against BT to proceed

9 May 2022

An appeal by UK fixed line incumbent BT aimed at halting a GBP600 million (USD740 million) class action compensation claim has been dismissed by the Court of Appeal, Collective Action on Landlines (CALL) – the consumer group that launched the lawsuit – has confirmed.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in September 2021 the UK’s Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) said it would allow the landmark case to proceed, centred on allegations that BT abused its dominant position in two telecoms markets by imposing unfair prices in respect of approximately 2.3 million customers between October 2015 and April 2018.

Now, CALL has confirmed that the Court of Appeal dismissed BT’s appeal in a judgment dated 6 May 2022. In its petition, the telco had argued that the claim should have been brought on an ‘opt-in’ basis, meaning that any person wishing to join the claim would have had to take active steps to become members of the class being represented by CALL and its representative Justin Le Patourel. However, Le Patourel disputed the necessity of this, highlighting the low levels of likely engagement with such a process, and the cost and time of signing each individual Class Member up to the claim. With the Court of Appeal having held in favour of CALL, the claim is now permitted to proceed on an ‘opt-out’ basis, meaning all eligible class members are automatically included in the claim, unless they elect to opt out.

United Kingdom, BT Group (incl. Openreach)