The administrators of failed UK retailer Phones 4U have reportedly brought an expert on board to assess whether to launch a damages claim against the country’s mobile operators.
The mobile seller collapsed in September 2014 after operator EE said it would end its relationship with the company. This followed the end of a deal with Vodafone UK and meant that Phones 4U no longer had relationships with operators that accounted for more than 90 per cent of its connections.
O2 UK and 3 UK had already ended their relationships with Phones 4U by this time.
Both EE and Vodafone subsequently took over a number of Phones 4U stores.
The Telegraph reported administrators at PwC have appointed insolvency expert Paul Copley to investigate whether to instigate a damages claim against the operators, based on the possibility they may have illegally colluded to force Phones 4U out of the market.
While the mobile industry grew up with a number of independent distributors selling phones and connections to consumers, in the increasingly competitive market operators looked to cut out the middle men, and their commission, to go direct to consumers.
Earlier this year, BT revealed in its annual report that it had made a payment on 8 May to settle outstanding payments due to Phones 4U, following a high court action (The Telegraph put the figure at £120 million, which BT did not confirm). At the time, it noted that the administrators had “separately made allegations that EE and other mobile network operators colluded to procure P4U’s insolvency…We dispute these allegation vigorously and to date no proceedings have been issued”.