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Updated: 19 May 2022

UK consumers one step closer to nearly £500 million payout

Competition Appeal Tribunal gives go ahead for Which? collective case against chipset manufacturer Qualcomm

Which? has won permission to represent almost 30 million UK consumers in its case against global chipset manufacturer Qualcomm.

Which? believes Qualcomm has abused its position as a dominant company charging smartphone manufacturers, such as Apple and Samsung, inflated fees to use its technology increasing their costs which in turn led to us paying higher prices for our phones.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal gave the go-ahead for the claim to proceed to trial and agreed Which? is the appropriate representative for the millions of UK consumers affected.

The Tribunal was unanimous in its decision to certify the claim, providing the written judgment just six weeks after the hearing.

Here we explain what it means for you and how you can stay up-to-date.

For more information, including your rights in response to Which?'s claim, access to key documents and to register your interest, visit smartphoneclaim.co.uk.

Opt-out claim for almost 30 million UK consumers  

We believe that Qualcomm breached competition law and cost UK consumers millions of pounds, so we are taking legal action against Qualcomm to recover the overpayments made on Apple and Samsung handsets bought since 1 October 2015.

This type of legal action means that, if the claim succeeds, and if you’re eligible, you will automatically be included in the claim unless you tell us that you don’t want to be. As it stands, we estimate that, depending on the number and type of phones you have bought, you could be due around £16-17.

Qualcomm had tried to argue the cost of bringing the claim outweighed any benefit, but the Tribunal was unpersuaded and stated in its ruling 'in the current economic climate, and given the cost of living challenges faced by many consumers, we do not consider that an average claim of £16–17 per consumer is such a small sum that take-up is inherently likely to be limited’.

What you need to know

A provisional list of smartphones we believe to be affected is available on the claim website. These proceedings are part of the 'opt-out' collective redress regime, and so you don't have to do anything now to have a chance to get your money back.

If the court finds Qualcomm has broken competition laws, those affected should get back the money they are rightfully owed, and we are urging anyone affected to sign up for updates on the action so you can track its progress.

For more information, including your rights in response to Which?'s claim, access to key documents and to register your interest, visit smartphoneclaim.co.uk.

What happens next?

The Tribunal’s ruling gives Which?’s claim the green light to proceed to trial. A timetable for the next steps in the claim will be set by the Tribunal in the next few months. As soon as the date for trial is set, the claim website will be updated with further information

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.

'If Qualcomm has abused its market power it must be held to account. This judgement ensures that it can be. Which? brought this claim on behalf of millions of affected UK consumers, as it would not have been realistic for people to seek damages from the company on an individual basis. 

'That’s why it’s so important that consumers can come together and claim the redress they are entitled to.

‘We now urge everyone who thinks they may be affected to visit www.smartphoneclaim.co.uk to find out more about the claim and sign up for updates.’

A Qualcomm spokesperson said: 'We disagree with today’s ruling, though it is strictly procedural and in no way supportive of the plaintiff’s meritless assertions. The claims here recycle allegations in an old case brought by the Federal Trade Commission in the US, which Qualcomm won. The theories seen here were discredited two years ago by a unanimous panel of judges at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the US.'