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Millions of EE, O2, Three and Vodafone mobile users could get £1,000+ if new group legal claim wins: the need-to-knows

Millions of mobile users could get £1,000-plus payouts if a new group legal claim succeeds. Plans are afoot to take the four biggest mobile operators – EE, O2, Three and Vodafone – to court for overcharging customers. It's early days and nothing is guaranteed, but here's the current state of play.

This is about historic overcharging as well as current, so there’s no need to hold on to your existing mobile deal to be a part of this, meaning you don't need to stick with a costly deal (you can use our  Cheap Mobile Finder tool to see if you're overpaying compared with today's top deals).

The legal claim alleges firms overcharged consumers by not lowering costs after handsets were paid off

The claim alleges that mobile operators overcharged customers once they'd reached the end of their contract and their handset was paid off. It claims that firms should have moved customers to the same price as a cheaper SIM-only deal once their contract had ended. 

Justin Guttman, who was head of research and insight at charity Citizens Advice, is bringing the claim on behalf of 4.8 million people who bought mobile contracts that included a phone and airtime services – such as data, minutes and calls – from either EE, O2, Three or Vodafone. 

The claim aims to recoup over £3 billion on behalf of affected customers, which could equate to pay outs of up to £1,800 per person. 

You don't need to do anything to be included in this legal claim

The exact definition of who could be included in this claim will be determined during the legal process, if it goes ahead. But you're likely to qualify if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You live in the UK.
  • You entered into at least one combined handset and airtime contract with EE, O2, Three or Vodafone between 2007 and 2023.
  • At the end of your contract, you could have paid less on a SIM-only deal (which we suspect is most people). 

We've asked if the 2007 to 2023 period refers to purchasing a contract, contracts ending, or both and we'll update this story when we know more. We've also asked if this means contracts taken out from 2024 onwards will not be included in the claim. 

If you are eligible, you don't need to opt in (there will be an option to opt-out) and there's no action to take at this stage. If the claim is successful and there is compensation to be paid, you may be required to come forward to claim your share. 

We will follow the story closely on MSE and include any updates in the MSE weekly email or you can register for case updates from the team behind the legal claim.

You won't incur any costs for taking part 

You won't need to pay anything in order to take part and, if the claim is successful, you could be due a payout worth £1,000-plus. The claim is being backed by a so-called 'litigation funder' called LCM Funding UK Ltd, which will receive a share of any compensation awarded. We're checking if this will impact the payout amount you could receive and we will update this story when we know more.

If the claim is unsuccessful, you won't be liable for any of the four mobile firms' legal costs as any liability would fall on the person bringing the case, in this instance Mr Guttman. Mr Guttman's team say he has arranged "After-the-Event" insurance to cover him if the claim fails. 

It's still very early days

So far, the claim has been filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal. 

The Tribunal will now decide whether the claim can go ahead in the proposed format: in other words, in one big batch. There is currently no date set for when this might happen.

Even if the group claim gets the green light, it'll still take a long time to proceed through the legal system. Similar cases in the past have taken many years to resolve, especially as they almost always get appealed up to Supreme Court level, so it's unlikely we'll see a resolution until 2026 at the very earliest. 

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