Millions of BT landline customers could be in line for up to £500 if a new class action case is successful
BT is facing a £600 million class action case amid claims some 2.3 million customers have been overcharged for their landline since October 2015. The bid has been approved by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) and the case will now proceed to a full trial, though BT continues to deny the claims.
Update: 16 January 2024: The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) first approved a bid to launch a class action case against BT in September 2021 and it's now been confirmed that the case will go to a full trial on 29 January 2024.
The CAT expects to finish hearing all of the evidence in the case by 22 March 2024 after which a judgement will be made. We don't yet know how long it will take for the CAT to make a decision.
Between the claim being given the go-ahead and now, BT had argued to the Court of Appeal that proceedings should be on an 'opt-in' only basis. This would have seen all 2.3 million people potentially affected contacted and asked to sign up to the claim before it could proceed. However, this was rejected by the Court of Appeal on 6 May 2022, meaning the case proceeds on an opt-out only basis.
We'll continue to follow developments on MSE News.
The case, which is being brought by Justin Le Patourel – founder of action group 'Collective Action on Land Lines' (CALL) – centres around an old investigation by telecoms regulator Ofcom. In 2016, BT agreed to reduce its landline prices by £7 a month following Ofcom concerns that some customers, often elderly or vulnerable, were getting poor value for money.
Despite BT decreasing prices, Mr Le Patourel believes the company owes compensation to customers for past alleged overpayments.
Mishcon de Reya, the law firm working on Mr Le Patourel's behalf, argues that customers could be in line for payments of up to £500 each if the case is successful.
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Millions of BT customers are covered by the class action
The class action covers the following BT customers:
- 'Voice-only' customers who had a BT landline service between October 2015 and April 2018, but did not receive a broadband service from BT or any other provider.
- 'Split-purchase' customers who had BT landline services alongside a broadband service from any provider at any time between October 2015 and 8 December 2023, but did not 'bundle' the services together into a single, discounted package.
All affected customers will be automatically represented and do not need to take any steps to join the action. Previously there was an option to 'opt-out' of the claim but the deadline for this has now passed.
What does BT say?
A BT spokesperson said: "We do not accept that our pricing was anti-competitive back then, and as such are committed to robustly defending our position at trial.”