Matrix loses filesharing appeal brought by BT and TalkTalk

The Court of Appeal has thrown out a bid by British Telecom (BT) and TalkTalk to overturn a judicial review ruling handed down by Mr Justice Parker last year, paving the way for the implementation of the Digital Economy Act.

Today’s ruling, given by Lady Justice Arden and Lord Justices Richards and Patten, marks the end of the legal battle waged by BT and TalkTalk against the legislation.

Matrix Chambers Antony White QC was instructed by the companies’ in-house legal teams to lead Blackstone Chambers’ Kieron Beal (QC in waiting) for the appellants.

They faced Blackstone Chambers’ James Eadie QC, the Treasury devil, who led Monckton Chambers’ Robert Palmer and Alan Bates of the same set for Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport.

Blackstone Chambers’ Pushpinder Saini QC was instructed to lead 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square’s James Strachan by Wiggin partner Simon Baggs for interested party the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television.

The court dismissed all but one element of the appeal, holding that the Government can now send letters to UK internet users accused of illegal filesharing.

BT and TalkTalk had argued that the Government’s move was not compatible with EU legislation.

Baggs commented: “The court has again concluded that the EU and UK legislative framework enables action to be taken to protect copyright online.”

The internet providers would not be liable for case fees charged by an intended appeals body that is to be established by the media regulator Ofcom to deal with challenges to its fines.

However, the court held that the internet providers would be liable for 25 per cent of the costs incurred by Ofcom in setting up the appeals body.

The appellants had argued that the legislation was incompatible with European law. It put an unfair burden on them to pay the costs of the rights-holders who were attempting to stamp out illegal downloading, they said.

For more see this blog from Head of Legal’s Carl Gardner.