Ordanduu & Optimus Mobile v PhonepayPlus: permission granted for judicial review against UK premium rate services regulator

07 Apr 2014 | by Caroline Sweeney

At a hearing in the Administrative Court on 3 April 2014 Mr Justice Charles granted permission for two German companies, Ordanduu GmbH and Optimus Mobile GmbH, to bring judicial review proceedings against the UK regulator for premium rate telephone services, PhonepayPlus.

The claim arises out of a series of “Emergency Procedure” investigations instigated by PhonepayPlus in July 2013 under paragraph 4.5 of its Code of Practice.  The investigations followed identification by PhonepayPlus of a website using a form of malware to lock consumers’ internet browsers in an attempt to direct them to a number of online services and generate affiliate advertising revenue.  The investigations resulted in financial penalties and other sanctions being imposed on a number of companies, including several located in other EU Member States.

The Claimants are challenging PhonepayPlus’s actions as contrary to EU law.  The Judge also gave the Claimants permission to raise English public law grounds in their claim, having observed that PhonepayPlus’s actions against the Claimants were arguably unfair as a matter of public law.  The Claimants are also claiming damages for breach of their EU law rights.  The case is now expected to proceed to a substantive hearing.

Gerry Facenna, instructed by Hamlins LLP, acts for the Claimants, Ordanduu GmbH and Optimus Mobile GmbH.  Tim Ward QC, instructed by Bates Wells Braithwaite LLP, acts for the Defendant, PhonepayPlus.