Hausfeld drags Google in class action litigation in UK
The US law firm initiates £920 million competition claim against over Play Store charges against the tech giant in the UK
Hausfeld, one of the top disputes-only law firms, has dragged tech giant Google into class action litigation in the UK.
The firm has initiated a £920 million class-action lawsuit against Google accusing it of overcharging nearly 20 million UK customers for Google Play Store purchases.
The claim has been filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) in London on behalf of Liz Coll.
Coll is considered a 'consumer champion' and is former digital head at consumer rights organisation Consumers International.
Barristers Mark Hoskins QC and Aaron Khan of Brick Court Chambers and Ronit Kreisberger QC and Michael Armitage of Monckton Chambers make up the case's legal team. Global litigation funder Vannin Capital is providing requisite funds for the litigation.
Class action litigation, although a common fixture in the US courts, is somewhat a rarity in the UK and yet to become part of its litigation culture. Consumer collective action suits were formally introduced in the UK in 2015. One of the most talked-about class-action litigation was witnessed in the UK in December 2020 in which Mastercard was under focus over allegations of overcharging the UK credit cardholders. The UK Supreme Court had certified a class action against Mastercard, allowing a £14 billion case to proceed. It had paved the way for bringing straightforward and easily understood collection action in the UK.
Hausfeld is supposedly representing an estimated class of 19.5 million UK users of smartphones and tablets running on Google's Android operating system. Google has been accused of unfairly restricting consumer access to other app distributors by pre-installing Google's proprietary apps including the Google Play Store and charging a 30 per cent commission charge on every digital purchase.
"In Britain and elsewhere, Google dominates the Android smartphone market and uses that dominance to restrict competition and charge excessive and unfair app store fees that are out of all proportion to the cost of providing those services. Thankfully, we have robust competition laws to protect consumers, and a collective proceedings regime to vindicate their rights, and we are looking forward to working with Liz Coll in holding Google to account for its unlawful conduct," Lesley Hannah, who is leading the Hausfeld team in the litigation, said.
Google has, however, justified charging fees to the UK users saying it competes vigorously and fairly for developers and consumers and its fees are comparable to its competitors.
"This lawsuit ignores the benefits and choice Android and Google Play provide as well as the competitive market in which we operate," Google has said in a statement.