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Phones4U loses collusion allegation case against mobile networks. Landmark 728-page judgment dismisses all claims

Staff Reporter
December 4, 2023

Phones 4U (In Administration) has lost its case against the mobile networks iin which it accused them of colluding to shut the retailer down in 2014. 

In a judgement that runs to nearly 728 pages and took more than a year to compile Mr Justice Roth rejected all the claims for breach of competition law and the separate claim against EE for breach of contract.

All of Phones 4U’s claims against EE, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Orange were dismissed. Phones 4U Ltd (In Administration) is considering whether to appeal the judgment. 

Mr Jstice Peter Roth took more than a a year to compile his Judgment and dismissed all claims brought by Phones 4U (In Administration)

A nine-week trial last year heard evidence from 41 witnesses from the various parties and four expert witnesses, and a vast volume of documentation, including emails and text message.

Had the networks lost the case it ihas been estimated they would have been on the hook for massive damages arpproaching £1 billion,.

Witnesses included current EE CEO Marc Allera, Ex-O2 CEO Ronan Dunne, and ex-EE CEOOlaf Swantee.  A ket piece of Phoes4U’s evidence was a meeting at the Landmarak Hotel between  Ronan Dunne and Olaf Swanteed, heads of O2 and EE, in which Phones4U’s barristers allege the two men discussed Phones4U, in conravention of competition law 

The Court was critical of the general approach of many senior mobile network executives in “failing to adhere to their own corporate guidance when meeting competitors, and said they that they frequently did not set out in advance the topics to be discussed or make any note afterwards of the discussion which had taken place”.

Phones 4U (In Administration) alleged that the collapse of the retailer was caused by anti-competitive collusion between three of the four operators of mobile networks at the time in the UK: EE Ltd (“EE”), Vodafone Ltd and Telefonica UK Ltd (“O2”), and their parent companies, either through bilateral arrangements or multilateral arrangements.

In a sumary judgement mr Juistice Roth said:

“The essential allegation was that, when each of those three network operators informed Phones 4U that it would not be extending or renewing its agreement whereby Phones 4u  supplied its customers with connection on its network, that decision was not taken wholly independently but followed exchanges between them regarding their future commercial strategy, or commitments which they had given to each other, either at the level of the UK operating company or at the level of their parent companies. EE at the time was a joint venture between Deutsche Telekom AG (“DT”) and Orange SA (“Orange”), and a claim was made in the same terms against these German and French companies”.


Read the 728-page judgement HERE

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