BT statement on Competition Appeal Tribunal procedural hearing on certification

This statement has since been updated as procedural matters relating to the case have progressed.

The latest statement can be found at: https://newsroom.bt.com/bt-to-take-competition-appeal-tribunal-procedural-ruling-to-court-of-appeal/

  • BT will continue to vigorously defend itself against the speculative claim of overcharging customers, following preliminary ruling on the procedural matter of certification.
  • Ofcom assessed the subject three years ago with no finding of excessive pricing or breach of competition law more generally.
  • BT’s social tariff, pandemic response and leadership in Customer Fairness demonstrate BT’s commitment to Connect for Good

BT is reviewing the preliminary ruling on the procedural matter of certification for a proposed class action claim, which accuses BT of anti-competitive behaviour towards its landline customers, and will consider all available options to defend itself vigorously.

BT regrets being drawn into litigation on a topic Ofcom considered more than three years ago. At that time, Ofcom’s final statement made no finding of excessive pricing or breach of competition law more generally. The preliminary ruling by the Competition Appeal Tribunal did not find anything to the contrary. This claim seeks to hold against BT the fact that it implemented a voluntary commitment to reduce prices for customers that have a BT landline only and not to increase those prices beyond inflation (CPI).

BT takes its responsibilities to customers very seriously, launching BT Home Essentials earlier this year, a market leading social tariff connecting those on low income with affordable fibre connectivity and calls. It builds on BT’s initial social tariff, launched in 2008, to provide futureproof fibre connectivity at a time when online resources have never been more important.

BT offers free text, data and minutes to those who need it most and staff are fully trained to work with vulnerable customers, offering priority fault repair. BT’s pandemic response (NHS data, Digital Skills, and Lockdown Learning Support), and a major focus on leading in Customer Fairness, clearly demonstrate that BT wants to live up to its purpose and Connect for Good.

A BT Spokesperson said: “We strongly disagree with the speculative claim being brought against us and will consider all available options as we review the preliminary ruling on the 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.

“We assure our customers that we will not let this claim disrupt the relationship BT has with them. We will continue to support our customers through the pandemic and beyond.”

About BT

BT Group is the UK’s leading telecommunications and network provider and a leading provider of global communications services and solutions, serving customers in 180 countries. Its principal activities in the UK include the provision of fixed voice, mobile, broadband and TV (including Sport) and a range of products and services over converged fixed and mobile networks to consumer, business and public sector customers. For its global customers, BT provides managed services, security and network and IT infrastructure services to support their operations all over the world. BT consists of four customer-facing units: Consumer, Enterprise, Global and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Openreach, which provides access network services to over 650 communications provider customers who sell phone, broadband and Ethernet services to homes and businesses across the UK.

For the year ended 31 March 2021, BT Group’s reported revenue was £21,331m with reported profit before taxation of £1,804m.

British Telecommunications plc is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

For more information, visit www.bt.com/about