High Court denies BT’s attempts to sue Virgin Mobile


The result brings nearly a year’s worth of legal action to a close 

The High Court has rejected EE’s legal challenge against Virgin Media – now Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) – which accused Virgin Media of terminating their network access agreement before its expiry.  

Virgin Mobile first signed a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) deal with EE back in 2013, offering consumers mobile services powered by the latter’s 3G and 4G network infrastructure.  

In 2019, at the dawn of the 5G era, Virgin ended its contract with EE in favour of Vodafone, saying they would begin to move customers to Vodafone’s platform towards the end of 2021.  

In 2021 itself, Virgin Media would ultimately merge with O2, hence negating the need for the Vodafone MVNO contract. However, EE argue that Virgin had pushed some of its 3 million customers off of EE’s network and onto O2 and Vodafone’s networks platforms before the contracted end date in 2024. 

As a result, EE filed the legal challenge in August 2022, seeking £24.6 million in loss of revenue damages from VMO2.  

Today, the High Court Justice Joanna Smith DBE ruled against the appeal, describing EE’s claim as “fanciful” and noting that it had “no real prospect of succeeding”. 

According to VMO2, Virgin’s former agreement with BT stated that if EE released 5G services to its own customers and failed to reach an agreement with Virgin Media on 5G services within a defined time frame, then Virgin Media was permitted to obtain its 5G services elsewhere – in this case, from Vodafone.   

“We’ve always been very clear that we fully honoured our former mobile agreement with BT while giving our customers access to 5G as soon as possible. We’re pleased that the court has ruled in our favour and summarily dismissed EE’s claim against us,” said a Virgin Media spokesperson. 

BT – parent company of EE – said that “we are disappointed by the court’s judgment and will now carefully review the findings before considering next steps”. 

How is the UK telecoms landscape evolving in 2023? Join the operators in discussion at this year’s Connected Britain event 

Also in the news: 
Virgin Media O2 announces 2,000 job cuts
Vodafone sales increase as merger looms
Vodafone and Three UK closing in on merger 

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