The UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has certified the collective claim filed by UK consumer champion Which? against Qualcomm for over £480 million. The claim is on behalf of a class of millions of UK consumers and alleges that Qualcomm abused its dominance in the markets for smartphone chipsets and standard essential patents, leading to higher smartphone prices for consumers.
Qualcomm resisted the collective proceedings order (CPO) application on the basis that the methodology proposed by one of Which?’s economic experts for quantifying pass-on to consumers is not fit for purpose and that, in any event, the proposed claims are not suitable to be brought in collective proceedings because the costs of the proceedings will outweigh the benefits. In addition to these objections, Qualcomm contended that if a CPO is granted, the Tribunal should require Which? to obtain an anti-avoidance endorsement (“AAE”) to its after-the-event (“ATE”) insurance policies in order for Which?’s funding arrangements to meet the requirements of s.47B(5)(a) CA 1998 and Rule 78(2) of the Tribunal Rules 2015.
For the reasons given in the Judgment, the Tribunal unanimously concluded that:
(1) Which? meets the authorisation condition.
(2) The claims sought to be combined meet the eligibility condition.
(3) A clause in Which’s? ATE policies should be amended but Which? is not required to add AAEs to its post-CPO ATE policies.
(4) A CPO will be made on an opt-out basis for those of the class domiciled in the UK and on an opt-in basis for class members domiciled outside the UK.
Anabel Hoult, Which? Chief Executive, said:
“We’re delighted to have secured this great result for consumers, bringing them a step closer to the nearly £500 million that we believe they are owed by Qualcomm.”
Lucy Rigby, Partner at Hausfeld, also commented:
“The Tribunal has dismissed all of Qualcomm’s arguments against certification and it is very good news for the consumers Which? represents that this claim will now proceed to trial. The acknowledgement in this ruling of the clear benefits of Which?’s claim being brought is welcome and this point, alongside others, is likely to be of wider application in terms of the development of the opt-out collective regime.”
The full judgment can be found HERE.