LEGAL MATTERS(Views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the author. With respect to Sankar v. Bell Mobility, nothing at this website is intended to bind members of the class.)
Sankar v. Bell
On May 04, 2012, Celia Sankar launched a class action lawsuit against Bell Mobility Inc and its parent company Bell Canada Enterprises Inc, on behalf of Bell prepaid wireless customers in Ontario whose unused balances the company claimed as forfeited during the day of expiry assigned by the company.
This action, under Ontario's Class Proceedings Act and Consumer Protection Act, claims $100 million in damages and $10 million in punitive damages. The matter is to be heard in a Toronto court.
Success before the courts will mean that Bell Mobility will have to refund to Ontario customers all or a portion of the sums it removed from their accounts during a period specified by the Court. These customers include those with services under Bell's three brands: Virgin Mobile Canada, Bell Mobility, and Solo Mobile.
Please check this page frequently for updates on the proceeding.
April 27, 2015
Bell Mobility prepaid wireless consumers appeal Ontario Superior Court decision and, on April 27, file document fully setting out reasons for the appeal. Read more here,
February 12, 2015
The Ontario Superior Court determined that Bell was justified in seizing the funds in customers' prepaid wireless, pay-per-use accounts at dates and times that were earlier than the expiry dates the company communicated directly to consumers. Read more here, .
Upcoming: January 28 - 30, 2015
The Ontario Superior Court has set aside three days at the end of January to hear arguments in the class action proceeding. This hearing will go to the heart of the matter.
Our lawyers will tell the court that Bell was wrong to seize consumers' funds during purported expiry dates, for two reasons. One, Bell breached its contracts by seizing the funds in consumers' prepaid wireless accounts earlier than the company was entitled to according to the terms of service. Two, Ontario's gift card regulation prohibits Bell from placing expiry dates on the funds in the accounts of prepaid wireless consumers.
Bell's lawyers will, of course, try to convince the judge that the company has acted with absolute propriety, and has been totally law-abiding.
August 18, 2014
The official Notice of the class action is published in newspapers across Ontario. This is in an attempt to make the court case known to everyone who lost money when Bell seized their cash balance on a purpoted expiry date between May 04, 2010 and December 16, 2013. Known as "class members", these persons are given three months to opt out of the class action lawsuit and to fight Bell individually, if they so choose. Whoever does not opt-out is considered part of the class and will be bound by whatever decision the Court eventually makes.
Selected news coverage
December 16, 2013
We win again! The Ontario Divisional Court denies Bell's request to appeal the decision to certify our case as a class action. We can proceed with preparing to get down to the real heart of the matter -- our request that the Court stops Bell from seizing consumers' cash balances on a purported expiry date. Read Justice Moore's decision here.
December 05, 2013
Bell is unhappy about losing Round 1. They file a request to appeal Justice Belobaba's decision and the matter is heard before Justice J. Moore the Divisional Court.
October 04, 2013
We win Round 1. The Ontario Superior Court says we have a case that, on the face of it, has merit, and which deserves to be heard as a class action. This means customers who individually lost small sums are not forced to take Bell to Small Clamis Court individually. Instead, the Ontario Superior Court will hear the grievance of over one million consumers in one hearing, with Celia Sankar representing all affected consumers.
Selected news coverage
May 21, 2013
In a Toronto court, Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba starts hearing three days of arguments in Sankar v. Bell Mobility. As explained here, the judge is to decide one narrow subject -- whether the grievances of a million-plus Ontario customers will be heard all at once, in a single hearing.
Certification hearing set for May 2013 (exact date to be determined). Parties agree that parent company, Bell Canada, will be dropped as defendant, so only Bell Mobility is to be named in the lawsuit. See here.
May 04, 2012
A statement of claim is filed with the Ontario Superior Court signalling the intention to bring a class action lawsuit against Bell Canada and Bell Mobility. The claim alleges that Bell breaches it contract with prepaid wireless customers when it seizes their cash balances on purported expiry dates, and that these expiry dates are prohibited under Ontario's consumer protection legislation.
The lawsuit not only asks the courts to decide whether Bell's handling of the expiry dates on prepaid wireless services is unfair, but challenges the legality of the expiration of prepaid wireless services as a whole. The claim asserts that manual prepayments for prepaid wireless services fall under the definition of "gift cards" as found in the Ontario Consumer Protection Act and, therefore, should not be subject to expiry.
You may read the claim in its entirety here).
Selected news coverage