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Court of Appeal dismisses BT's appeal against a landmark £600m collective action compensation claim

Posted on 6 May 2022

The Court of Appeal has today dismissed BT's appeal against an earlier decision by the Competition Appeal Tribunal to allow a landmark £600 million class action compensation claim, finding in favour of the Class Representative, Justin Le Patourel.

On 27 September 2021, the Competition Appeal Tribunal issued a judgment approving a bid to launch a collective compensation claim against BT on behalf of over 2.3 million customers that it allegedly overcharged.

The landmark case, led by Mr Le Patourel, aims to recover hundreds of pounds for BT landline-only customers and those who took landline and broadband but not "bundled together" in the same contract. Many of these people are older and from low-income households.

BT appealed this judgment in the Court of Appeal on the basis that the proceedings should be "opt-in". This would have required all 2.3 million class members to have been contacted and signed up to the claim before it could proceed.

Mr 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.

The Court of Appeal held in favour of Mr Le Patourel and the claim is now permitted to proceed on an "opt-out" basis. As such, all eligible class members are automatically included in the claim, unless they elect to opt out. If the Class Representative is successful, Class Members will be entitled to compensation.

Sarah Houghton from Mishcon de Reya said: "This is foremost a fantastic result for the members of the class represented by Justin Le Patourel. We are grateful that the Court of Appeal chose to address BT's appeal in such an expedited fashion so that we can move forwards towards achieving meaningful results for the class. The judgment has also moved the collective redress regime forwards in establishing important points of law that will have application in future cases."

Mr Le Patourel said: “I am grateful that the Court of Appeal has found in our favour and we can now proceed to a full trial. Asking people to sign up to legal process which they don't understand, and which has an uncertain outcome, would almost certainly have led to low levels of engagement. This would have made it impossible to secure redress for those affected. Our case, that BT overcharged landline customers, many of whom were elderly and vulnerable, over the course of several years, is very strong. I look forward to progressing this claim as quickly as possible”.

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