French consumer group goes after top telecoms

6th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 6 (AFP) - French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir said on Tuesday that it had launched legal action against leading French mobile phone operators after they were fined last week for manipulating the market for mobile phones and increasing costs for consumers.

PARIS, Dec 6 (AFP) - French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir said on Tuesday that it had launched legal action against leading French mobile phone operators after they were fined last week for manipulating the market for mobile phones and increasing costs for consumers.

On Thursday, the French Competition Council applied a record total fine of EUR 534 million on phone groups SFR, Bouygues Telecom and France Telecom subsidiary Orange for "particularly serious" collusion.

The legal director of UFC-Que Choisir, Gaëlle Patetta, said that her organisation had served writs on the three companies and had notified three relevant local courts of the litigation.

UFC-Que Choisir (meaning in English 'which product to choose') believes that about 30 million subscribers suffered from the collusion and that the illicit practices had generated extra costs of about EUR 1.1bn.

Patetta said that 8,500 complainants had come forward to take part in the action, of which 1,500 had fully documented records.

About 130,000 people had visited the website of UFC-Que Choisir to calculate how much they have suffered, the organisation said.

Patetta complained that each complainant would have to appear in court individually because French law currently excludes the possibility of bringing class action suits.

"If 40,000 people contact us, that means 40,000 files before the judge. A court doesn't have the means to call so many people," she said.

Class action procedures, a keystone of US consumer law, enable individuals to seek damages of even small amounts by grouping their claims under one composite complaint.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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