On May 22 2002 the three leading French mobile operators - Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom - were found liable by the court of first instance in Nanterre for deceptive practices towards mobile telephony customers in respect of their call-charging methods, following three separate actions filed by the French consumers association, UFC-Que Choisir.

The court ordered Orange and Bouygues to pay damages to UFC-Que Choisir for misleading advertising in connection with their monthly subscription packages, and ordered them to withdraw all such misleading advertising.

The court's sanction against SFR was more severe. Before May 15 2000 SFR charged calls by applying an initial charge covering one minute of call time and charging per second thereafter. However, on May 15 2000 SFR unilaterally modified its call-charging method to a unit-based method.

The court found that through this conduct, SFR had abusively modified the contracts of its entire subscriber base. The court ordered SFR to revert to the original call-charging method specified in contracts signed before May 15 2000 and to pay damages to UFC-Que Choisir.

For further information on this topic please contact Eric Morgan de Rivery or Carole Arribes at Lovells by telephone (+33 1 53 67 47 47) or by fax (+33 1 53 67 47 48) or by email ([email protected] or [email protected]).