This website has been created to inform members of the public about a proposed opt-out collective claim brought by Nikki Stopford against Google in relation to its alleged anti-competitive conduct in the search advertising market.Back To Top
The proposed collective claim is against several entities within the Google group of companies: Alphabet Inc., Google LLC, Google Ireland Limited and Google UK Limited. Together, these entities are referred to as “Google”.Back To Top
Nikki Stopford alleges that Google has breached competition law by abusing its dominant position in the search advertising market.
In particular, Ms Stopford alleges that Google acted anti-competitively by: (i) effectively forcing mobile phone handset manufacturers to pre-install the Google Search and Chrome browser apps on devices that used its Android operating system; and (ii) paying billions to Apple to ensure that Google Search was the default search engine on iPhones and other devices that used Apple’s iOS operating system.
These two practices have shut out competition in the mobile search market. The absence of competition in search advertising has led to higher prices for advertisers and poor-quality search results for consumers. Higher prices have also been passed onto consumers who are paying more for goods and services than they would in a competitive market.Back To Top
Nikki Stopford has applied to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (“Tribunal”) to act as the class representative on behalf of all consumers who are class members. If the Tribunal grants her permission to take on this role, she will bring the claim to the Tribunal on your behalf.
Ms Stopford has 25 years of experience in advocating and raising industry standards for consumers. She has expertise in consumer research, engagement, advocacy and publishing, and in the development of consumer-facing digital products and services. She has held executive leadership roles running successful digital and content-led consumer-facing businesses that have engaged and advocated for millions of consumers.
The Tribunal will decide whether to grant a Collective Proceedings Order by considering if: (a) Nikki is a suitable class representative to bring the claim; and (b) the claim is eligible for inclusion in collective proceedings.Back To Top
Hausfeld & Co. LLP are the lawyers providing legal advice and support to Nikki Stopford.
Hausfeld & Co. LLP is a leading disputes-only law firm specialising in competition law, with significant expertise in all aspects of collective redress and group claims – often acting against some of the largest corporations in the world. In particular, Hausfeld & Co. LLP has extensive experience in managing litigation against global “Big Tech” companies, including opt-out collective claims such as this one.
The costs of bringing the claim are covered by funds provided by Hereford Litigation Finance GT PCC Limited. Hereford Litigation is a global commercial litigation funder.Back To Top
Collective proceedings enable a claim to be brought by a class representative on behalf of a large number of claimants who have suffered loss as a result of a breach of competition law. The group is known as a “class” and all those within the group are “class members.” You may also see collective proceedings referred to as collective actions, class actions, and group actions.
Collective actions are an effective way for consumers to stand up to large and powerful organisations, and seek damages for harm caused, in cases where it would be near impossible for individual consumers to bring a claim.Back To Top
The Competition Appeal Tribunal is a specialist court based in London which hears and decides cases involving competition issues, including collective proceedings. More information on the Competition Appeal Tribunal, including information on its Rules and Guidance, can be found on its website.Back To Top
These proposed proceedings are being brought on an opt-out basis for individuals living in the UK. This means that if you fit within the class definition you will automatically be included in the claim and will be bound by any judgment or settlement unless you choose to opt-out of the proceedings. More information regarding opting out of the claim will be posted to this website at a later date.
Please register your interest by clicking here and you will be notified about when and how to opt out of the claim.Back To Top
Nikki Stopford has applied to be certified by the Competition Appeal Tribunal to act as the class representative in the claim.
If certified, she will conduct the claim against Google on behalf of all class members, save for those who opt out of the claim. Ms Stopford will be responsible for communicating with and issuing formal notices to the class members. These communications will include updates and announcements posted on this website, email correspondence and written notices.
To assist her in her role, Ms Stopford has established a consultative group of individuals experienced in the legal, economic and advertising sectors relevant to the collective claim.
The members of the consultative group are:
- Sir Christopher Clarke: Sir Christopher is a retired Court of Appeal Judge and formerly the Head of Brick Court Chambers. Upon retirement, Sir Christopher became a Judge of the Court of Appeal of Bermuda, of which he is now the President, and resumed his practice as an international arbitrator.
- Mike Colling: Mike Colling is a marketing, advertising and media professional with over 30 years’ experience. He has set up and helped run successful traditional advertising agencies, direct marketing agencies, media agencies and digital agencies, with an interest in media interactions that stimulate consumers to take commercially valuable action.
- Peter Vicary-Smith: Peter Vicary-Smith was for 14 years the Chief Executive of the consumer organisation Which?, prior to which his background was in marketing. He is currently Chair of the Board of Governors at Oxford Brookes University and of BMJ Publishing Group, and is an experienced Non-Executive Director at business-to-consumer businesses.
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The collective claim was filed on 7 September 2023. This is the first step for collective claims and requests that the Competition Appeal Tribunal (“Tribunal”) considers the claim to certify that (a) the class representative is suitable to be authorised to represent the class and (b) that the claim is suitable to be brought as a collective claim.
Next, the Tribunal will consider Nikki Stopford’s claim, and there will be a hearing to determine whether the claim should be “certified” (i.e. granted a Collective Proceedings Order so the claim can proceed to the next stage).
If the collective claim proceeds to trial (i.e. if it is not settled beforehand), the Tribunal will decide whether to make an aggregate award of damages. If made, the award will be distributed to the class members based on a distribution method approved by the Tribunal. Generally, disputes of this scale take a number of years to resolve.
Please register by clicking here to be notified of developments directly.Back To Top
There will be an opportunity for persons with an interest to object to Nikki Stopford’s application for a Collective Proceedings Order and for her authorisation as the class representative. A formal notice setting out the deadlines will be published on the claim website in due course.Back To Top
It will be possible for Proposed Class Members to determine whether they fall within the Proposed Class by assessing whether they were UK domiciled on the domicile date, and if so whether at any time during the period from 1 January 2011 they were aged 16 years or over and purchased goods and/or services from a business selling in the UK which used search advertising services provided by Google. The class includes the personal/authorised representatives of the estate of any individual who meets that description and was alive on 7 September 2023, but subsequently died.
Realistically, this covers all major retailers and service-providers, and many smaller brands.
To be in the class, you need to be aged 16 years or over when you made the purchase(s). You are not eligible for damages for purchases you made prior to you turning 16 years old.Back To Top
If you think you’ve been affected, then register for updates. The Search Claim is an “opt-out” claim, meaning that, if you fall within the class that Nikki Stopford intends to represent, you will automatically be included in the claim, unless you choose to opt out.
Updates on this and any other developments will be posted promptly on our website. We recommend that you register your interest via this website to receive updates on the case, and notification of any developments, directly to your email address.Back To Top
Yes. It does not matter where you have purchased your goods or services, they could have been bought online or in store. The impact of Google’s manipulation of search advertising prices is not restricted to mobile devices. All that is necessary is that you are aged 16 or over at the time of purchase and purchased goods and/or services from a business selling in the UK which used search advertising services provided by Google. It is not necessary for you to have: (i) seen the goods or services advertised on Google, or (ii) used Google to purchase the goods or services. This is because we say that these higher prices affected all of a business’ products if it advertised on Google.Back To Top
As a class member, you will not incur any costs by taking part in the claim, nor will you be liable to Google for its costs should the claim be unsuccessful. You can continue using Google Search and any other Google services however you see fit.Back To Top
There is no guarantee that you will receive any money, however Nikki Stopford is seeking an estimated aggregate award of damages in the region of £7 billion for the class as a whole. Any aggregate award of damages will then need to be distributed to eligible class members that come forward to claim their share. Our current estimate is that compensation is likely to be around £100 per person.Back To Top
If you choose not to be part of the claim, you will need to actively opt out once the claim is certified. There will be the option to do this on this website as soon as the claim reaches the certification stage.Back To Top