Keeping Track of Regulatory Breaches Could Help Customers Get Their Money Back

March 19, 2024

A landmark case is set to conclude this month. A group claim against telecommunications giant BT is the first of its kind to proceed to trial at the Competition Appeal Tribunal. The claim, if successful, could see 3.7 million BT customers recover some of the money they were overcharged for landline-only services.

Group claims are becoming more and more common in the UK. Legislation brought in 2015 allowed class actions to be brought in cases involving a competition breach. For the first time, these can be ‘opt-out’ so all affected consumers are automatically considered part of the claim. This makes cases a lot less challenging; group cases that are not competition-related must be ‘opt-in,’ meaning that law firms have a job to do in identifying possible claimants and adding them to the lawsuit.

‘Opt-out’ claims are made easier when a competition-related offence has already been picked up by regulators. In the case of BT, in 2017 Ofcom accepted voluntary proposals from BT to reduce line-rental charges for voice-only services, but they did not require BT to pay back to customers what it had already overcharged them.

As the first wide-ranging database tracking regulatory infringements Violation Tracker UK can help law firms and consumer protection campaigners research potential cases where no customer redress was initiated despite evidence of a regulatory breach.

The UK’s regulatory system lends itself to gaps in redress. As a result of both cuts to regulatory agencies and policies wedded to light touch regulation and self-reporting, enforcement action is often reserved for the most serious of infringements. This is reflected in the regulatory breaches catalogued by Violation Tracker UK, where 57% carry no monetary penalty.

Apple Logo
Source: Unsplash

When comparing to enforcement action taken abroad, the UK stands out. When Apple Inc. introduced software updates that slowed the performance of devices, it paid no penalty in the UK. The Competition and Markets Authority instead issued an undertaking to Apple that for future updates it was to inform its customers if the update were to affect performance. In France the firm was fined €25 million euros for the infraction, in Italy it was fined €10 million euros and in the US it paid $113 million in agency action and at least $310 million to settle a civil case.

Consumer rights activists in the UK have been quick to rectify these gaps utilising the new collective proceedings legislation. Last year ‘consumer champion’ Justin Guttman launched a £853 million claim against Apple on behalf of customers affected by the updates. Earlier in the year Consumer Voice was set up to coordinate actions such as these, launching group claims against Sony Playstation and Google Search in their first year.

Violation Tracker UK can make the process of finding cases where breaches of competition law have been identified, but no consumer redress has been initiated, easier than ever. Using the Offence Group dropdown on the landing page, you can narrow your search results to ‘competition-related offences’ allowing you to browse cases from the primary competition regulator the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as well as those investigated by sectoral agencies with concurrent powers to enforce the Competition Act 1998.

Even in cases where a monetary penalty has been imposed, customers may not have seen any compensation; for example, the case of EE’s early termination charges for which they paid a reduced penalty of £6.3 million.

Competition-related offences are not the only category on Violation Tracker UK that may be useful in launching group claims at the Competition Appeal Tribunal. For the first time a case has been launched that utilises collective proceedings for environmental purposes. Water companies, which naturally enjoy dominant market positions and therefore can be subject to competition-related claims, could well pay out millions to consumers for charging for sewage treatment whilst illegally discharging sewage into waterways. Many other companies with dominant market positions are vulnerable to competition-related claims for various consumer-protection and other offences.

Potential opt-in cases can also be identified from Violation Tracker UK. For example, cases from the Information Commissioner’s Office which identify companies who have breached data protection legislation.

In conclusion, new opportunities are opening up for consumers to get the compensation they deserve from companies who have broken the law. Violation Tracker UK can help identify cases where the regulatory system has not provided customer redress.

To search over 100,000 UK regulatory infringements visit violationtrackeruk.goodjobsfirstorg. To see successful class action lawsuits in the US you can search our US database at

To follow current group claims from Consumer Voice you can sign up for updates at

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