The Free Internet Group is seeking action against 12 of its members it claims have been using its service for commercial ventures.

Unmetered ISP The Free Internet Group is to establish a legal precedent by seeking action against 12 of its members whom, it claims, have been using its service for commercial ventures.

TFI, which is thought to have over 200,000 users, suspended 400 accounts at the end of last year, claiming that they were investigating breaches in its terms and conditions of use.

The majority of these accounts have been reinstated, but MD Lister Park said it has found several users who are clearly in contravention of the terms and conditions.The Group has held discussions with lawyers and will issue writs to "a dozen or so users" in the next month in an attempt to seek financial compensation.Park claims he has evidence of this misuse from call-logs and analysis of logging on constantly during peak periods.

"We provide an unmetered service and expect heavy usage, but it seems one-sided when we fund these users for months of commercial usage yet have no recourse," said Park.

According to legal experts, such a case, if it goes to court, would set legal history. Jonathan Cornthwaite, a partner at law firm Wedlake Bell, said: "This would be very unusual as I've never heard of a supplier suing a user before."

Ajay Patel, the principal lawyer at the Consumers' Association, agreed with Cornthwaite but questioned how successful such a case could be.

"It [the TFIG] needs to establish that there has indeed been a breach in the contract. But it's difficult to hang together as it will have to establish causation, and it's not easy to get evidence of this," he said.

Alan Stevens, the head of digital services at the Consumers' Association, added: "This follows on from activity last year when a number of ISPs suspended a number of users' accounts. Terms and conditions need to be more upfront about what can and can't be done."


Published 8 February, 2001 by NMA Staff

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