City solicitor wins key data roaming case against T-Mobile

A City litigator has won back nearly £600 in data roaming charges incurred on holiday in Australia after successfully fighting T-Mobile over her new mobile phone contract.

Angela Walsh, a solicitor at City firm Abrahams Dresden, called T-Mobile (now Everything Everywhere) in late 2010 to cancel her contract. Instead she was persuaded to accept a new deal and a new phone.

While on holiday in Australia her phone was disconnected because it had exceeded her credit limit, after incurring charges of £7.50 per megabyte through data roaming, despite Walsh not being aware that her phone was capable of this.

Walsh brought the case in the Mayor’s and City of London Court, arguing that T-Mobile was not entitled to the money as she had not been made aware of the terms and conditions on which the company was relying.

Last week (16 January) District Judge Trent upheld Walsh’s claim. He agreed that although she was an existing T-Mobile customer the upgrade meant that she had agreed a new contract. However, the terms and conditions had not been discussed during the phone call when Walsh agreed to upgrade, meaning there was no contractual provision in the arrangement made that gave her an obligation to pay the data roaming charges.

Although Walsh also argued that she had never received the terms and conditions in printed format, Judge Trent said this was irrelevant because the contract had already been concluded on the phone.

Judge Trent ruled that T-Mobile should reimburse the £566.31 incurred by Walsh as well as £240 in legal costs.

Walsh told The Lawyer she had decided to bring the claim after trying to get the company to reimburse the money.

“I was initially spurred on by how poorly they treated me. I did hope to make an example,” she said.

She pointed out that many people upgrade their mobile phone contracts in a similar way, giving the potential for other customers to bring similar claims.

“It’s really going to come down to the conversations that people have, because when people upgrade it’s typically on the phone. I imagine lots of people have similar experiences to me. In that respect it’s an important decision,” she said.

A spokesperson for T-Mobile said: “We respect the court’s decision. This was an isolated case and we will reimburse the customer’s charges.”

Walsh was represented by 4 New Square barrister Anthony Jones. Everything Everywhere legal counsel Carmel Codd represented the company.