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BT Appeal Competition Tribunal’s Landline Overcharging Ruling

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021 (5:09 pm) - Score 1,272
BT Tower 2021 in London

UK ISP BT has today confirmed they will appeal the preliminary ruling by the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT), which last month rejected the operator’s attempts to stop a £600m class action claim against the broadband and phone operator – this related to the alleged overcharging of over 2 million landline-only customers.

The class action claim is based around the somewhat retrospective allegation that BT were overcharging around 2.3 million landline-only customers between 2015 and 2018 (current rules prevent this being dated back to 2009). The case is also seeking compensation for customers who took both a broadband service and a BT landline, albeit not together as a bundle (such customers would have paid more for the individual services).

NOTE: The case is being pushed by Justin Le Patourel, who is the founder of related consumer group CALL (Collective Action on Land Lines).

We aren’t going to write another full-length summary of events in this case (see the previous article), but suffice to say that the CAT last month chose to unanimously reject BT’s opposition to the overcharging case and thus allowed it to proceed to trial. The decision also allowed all affected customers – each of which could receive up to £500 in compensation if BT loses at trial – to automatically be represented.

At the time, BT pledged to “vigorously defend itself against the speculative claim of overcharging customers” and we speculated that they may attempt to appeal CAT’s ruling. As expected, the telecoms giant has today confirmed that they are “seeking to appeal the preliminary ruling on a procedural matter of certification” (i.e. the trial can’t proceed until this stage is settled).

A BT Spokesperson said:

“We strongly disagree with the speculative claim being brought against us and we will be seeking permission from the Court of Appeal to appeal the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s preliminary ruling on a procedural matter of certification.

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, earlier this year, extended that to help a potential four million households on low incomes save on bills and stay connected to vital online services. We also worked hard to support our customers and the UK more broadly during the pandemic and continue to do so.

We assure our customers that we will not let this claim disrupt the relationship BT has with them.”

Cases like this can take a very long time to reach a conclusion, and so we won’t be writing a full summary for every twist or turn in events, as that could quickly become quite repetitive. But we will do our best to spot any developments and keep readers informed about progress.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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