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Two big cases challenge Google

The Chambers UK Bar team analyse two recent cases put forth against the tech giant, Google and review the decisions of the courts for both.

Published on 7 December 2021
Written by Sam Williamson
Sam Williamson

Lloyd v Google: is it back to the drawing board for data protection class action?

The Supreme Court has handed down its long-awaited judgment in Lloyd v Google. The Court allowed Google's appeal against an earlier judgment of the Court of Appeal, and decided that the proposed representative action could not be served on the tech giant. 

What was the Lloyd v Google case about?

Richard Lloyd attempted to bring a representative claim (or class action) against Google on behalf of millions of consumers, everyone who owned an iPhone during 2011-2012.  

The claim concerned Google's use of consumers' data gathered through cookies in the Safari app without their consent.  

The claim was legally significant because it tested whether such an action could be brought under rule 19.6 of the Civil Procedure Rules, which allows a claimant to bring a claim on behalf of others with the same interest. Whereas the Competition Act provides scope for class actions on behalf of consumers, there is no such legislation specific to other areas, such as Data Protection, where corporate wrongdoing can affect consumers en masse

The Chambers UK Bar team have anaylsed Group Litigation as a practice area in the UK legal market in an article that can be viewed here.

The Supreme Court's decision on the case

Ultimately the Supreme Court ruled against the claim proceeding. The court took the view that it would be necessary to demonstrate that those affected had suffered material harm rather than simply awarding damages on the basis of the breach itself.  

However, Lord Legatt's judgment recognises the utility of collective action in the context of the modern economy. 

Who were the barristers involved in the case?

Matrix Chambers Antony White KC and Edward Craven appeared for Google in its successful appeal.  

The representative claimant Richard Lloyd was represented by Hugh Tomlinson KC, also of Matrix, and by Oliver Campbell KC (Henderson Chambers) and Victoria Wakefield KC (Brick Court Chambers). Gerry Facenna KC and Nikolaus Grubeck (both Monckton Chambers) represented the Information Commissioner.  

The majority of the barristers appearing in the Lloyd v Google case are ranked in the Chambers UK Bar guide 2022 in our Data Protection and new Group Litigation tables. 

Google v European Commission: How a tech giant lost its challenge against the EU Antitrust regulator

A number of top London barristers were also involved in a case with a much worse outcome for Google. On 10th November the General Court of the EU decided to uphold a 2.42 billion euro fine for antitrust/competition violations.  

Google was fined for abuse of dominant position in favouring its own shopping comparison product over competitors, in Google search results. The fine was issued in 2017 and the General Court has rejected Google's appeal.  

Many commentators interpret the development as part of a push by the EU Commission's to crack down on tech giants operating in the bloc. 

Google's international legal team included Brick Court's Robert O'Donoghue KC and Daniel Piccinin, and Meredith Pickford KC of Monckton Chambers.  

The Chambers UK Bar guide 2022 provides market leading reviews and analysis of barristers working in this practice area via the Competition Law rankings.

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