FAQs

Find everything you need to know about the case from our FAQ’s below, including information about the claim, class membership and the class representative.

The Claim

Further information regarding the claim, its history and its progress.

What is the claim about?

The claim is about Google’s conduct in the market for online advertising and in particular display advertising on websites and mobile apps. In 2021, Google was fined by the French Competition Authority for abusing its dominant position in relation to this market, known as “ad tech services”. The claim alleges that all UK-based publishers of websites and apps (and, if applicable, their publisher partners such as resellers) that received revenue from the sale of online display ads may have suffered financial losses due to Google’s practice and are entitled to compensation. Compensation should reflect the higher ad sales revenues which you should have earned if Google had not acted in breach of competition law.

What is ad tech?

Simply put, ad tech is the technology powering the placement of online ads that billions of consumers see in their everyday lives, be it on a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. Digital advertising has experienced spectacular growth, exceeding $490 billion in 2021, so it’s no surprise that selling digital ads has become a key source of revenue for publishers of online content.

Who is the claim against and what have they done?

The claim is against various companies that form part of the Google group of companies. These companies are the largest and most important ad tech vendors at every step of the value chain, with market shares as high as 90-100%. 

We allege that Google has breached competition law, which prohibits companies from abusing a dominant position. The French competition authority has already decided that Google’s conduct caused considerable financial losses to Publishers, by depressing their revenue in two different ways:

(i) Google’s actions deprived publishers of the ability to benefit from undistorted competition between ad exchanges, which could have exerted pressure on Google to lower its very high AdX fees, at around 20%.

(ii) Google’s conduct also diverted advertising business from rival ad exchanges charging potentially lower commissions.

Google’s ad tech practices are also under scrutiny in lawsuits and investigations around the world, including ongoing investigations by the UK Competition and Markets Authority, the European Commission and the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, and lawsuits brought by a coalition of US State Attorneys General and by the US Department of Justice respectively. Compensation should reflect the higher ad sales revenues which you should have earned if Google had not acted in breach of competition law.

What are collective proceedings?

Collective proceedings are commonly referred to as a class action, class claim, a group claim or a group action. This is a form of court or tribunal procedure which enables a class representative to bring proceedings on behalf of numerous people affected by an infringement of EU or UK competition law.  

Before the claim can proceed, the Competition Appeal Tribunal must make a collective proceedings order (CPO) which authorises the class representative to act on behalf of the class while also certifing the claims as eligible to be included in the collective proceedings. Once the CPO is made, the class representative will have to prove its case at trial.

What is the Competition Appeal Tribunal?

This claim has been filed at the Competition Appeal Tribunal. The Tribunal is a specialist judicial body that is based in London but covers the whole of the UK and hears certain competition law and regulatory disputes. It has cross-disciplinary expertise in law, economics, business and accountancy. The Tribunal publishes its Rules and Guidance, together with information about what it does, on its website www.catribunal.org.uk.

What stage has the claim reached and what is the timeline for the litigation?

You may be aware that Claudio and Charles had previously issued separate but similar collective proceedings claims against Google. However, Claudio and Charles have since decided to amalgamate their claims in order to maximise the interests and chance of success for the class.

This amalgamation was approved by the Competition Appeal Tribunal on 16 October 2023. In terms of next steps, the Tribunal will decide whether to give permission for the claim to proceed as a collective action and whether the class representative is suitable to bring the claim at a hearing listed for 8-10 May 2024.

If the claim proceeds to trial (i.e. if it is certified and not settled beforehand), the Competition Appeal Tribunal will decide whether to make an aggregate award of damages. If made, the award will be distributed to class members based on a distribution method approved by the Competition Appeal tribunal. Generally, disputes of this scale take a number of years to resolve.

Please check this website for any further updates and, in particular, to see whether the claim has been given permission to proceed.

Could the claim settle before trial?

The claim could settle at any point. Any settlement reached between Ad Tech Collective Action LLP and Google must first be approved by the Competition Appeal Tribunal and must be just and reasonable. If Ad Tech Collective Action settles the claim in exchange for a sum of money from Google, that sum of money will be distributed to class members.

What happens if I previously registered my interest in the originally separate claim brought by Charles Arthur against Google?

You should have received an email from the Mr Arthur’s team informing you of the consolidation of Mr Arthur and Mr Pollack’s claims. To stay informed with Ad Tech Collective Action LLP’s consolidated claim and to receive further updates about the case, please register your interest using the form below.

Class Membership

Information regarding who is included in the claim, what you need to do, and how you can stay updated.

Who is included in the claim and what does opt-in/opt-out mean?

If you are a UK publisher of a website or mobile app and received revenue from the sales of online display ads you could benefit from this claim against Google. 

The claim is primarily being brought on an ‘opt-out’ basis. This means that these publishers of websites and mobile apps will automatically be included in the class and potentially eligible for compensation in due course if (1) the Competition Appeal Tribunal gives permission for this case to proceed and (2) you do not actively opt out of the claim. 

The ‘opt-out’ procedure is often used in class actions. In this case, it simply means that you’ll automatically be included in this claim if you are an affected publisher, unless you state you’d prefer not to be involved, and opt-out. Should you want to opt-out, you will not need to let us know until we are given permission to proceed by the Competition Appeal Tribunal. More details about this process will be provided once the claim has been given permission to proceed. 

You will be a member of this opt-out class (i.e. a “publisher”) if at any time between 1 January 2014 and 30 November 2022, you were a UK-domiciled person or business and published content on a website or mobile app containing ad units. If you meet these criteria, you will only be excluded from the class if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • Officers, directors or employees of Google, their subsidiaries and any entity in which they have a controlling interest;
  • All members of Ad Tech Collective Action LLP’s and Google’s respective legal teams and all experts and professional advisors instructed and retained by them, and all funders or insurers involved in connection with the claim;
  • All members of the Competition Appeal Tribunal assigned to these proceedings, their parents, their spouses or civil partners or any persons with whom they cohabit, and their children.
  • Any judge involved in any appeal in the claim, and their parents, their spouse or civil partner or any person with whom they cohabit, and their children;
  • Any deceased person; and
  • Any registered corporate entity or other registered entity with legal personality which has been struck off or dissolved more than 6 years prior to the claim being given permission to proceed by the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

In addition to the main ‘opt-out’ class, Ad Tech Collective Action LLP will also represent an ‘opt-in’ class of “publisher partners” (such as resellers) who, at any time between 1 January 2014 and 30 November 2022, sold space for adverts on a website or mobile app on behalf of a UK domiciled publisher. This class is subject to the same exclusions as listed above.

If you meet the criteria for a “publisher partner” you can also benefit from the claim against Google, but you will not automatically be included in the class. As this is an ‘opt-in’ class, you will have to let us know should you want to be included in the claim. There is nothing you need to do at the moment. Register your interest below if you want to stay updated about the claim and more details will be provided about the ‘opt-in’ process once the claim has been given permission to proceed by the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

What do I need to do now?

Right now, nothing.  While it will help us keep you up to date with the process by registering on the site, there is no requirement for you to participate at this point.  We are currently asking the Competition Appeal Tribunal for permission to bring this claim. Once we get the permission we will let you know about next steps and when you will need to let us know about your business so we can assess what losses you may have suffered. 

How do I pay for this claim and am I at risk to pay Google’s legal costs should the claim not succeed?

You do not need to pay anything for this claim. This is a funded claim which means that you will not need to pay for any legal fees to be included in this claim and instead a third party is paying for these costs.

The costs of bringing the claim are covered by funds and managed accounts that are ultimately managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group LLC. Fortress is a renowned litigation financier which provides litigation funding to enable the pursuit and successful recovery of damages from legal claims.

You will also not be at risk of having to pay for Google’s legal costs should the claim not succeed, as the funder has obtained ‘after the event’ insurance to cover any adverse costs risk.

How much money should I expect to receive and when?

Compensation will be for loss of revenue as a result of Google’s anti-competitive conduct. Our experts estimate that the value of the claim is up to £13.6 billion. The precise value of the claim will become known once our experts are able to analyse data which Google will be obliged to provide at a later stage of the claim. 

Affected publishers and publisher partners will be entitled to a share of compensation, but please note that recovery is not guaranteed. Should Ad Tech Collective Action LLP be certified to act as the class representative, it will need to prove its case at trial unless the case settles.

It could take a few years for the claim to reach a resolution. It may be that the claim will settle without having to go to trial in which case compensation could be available sooner. 

Can I talk publicly about the case, to my friends and family, or on social media?

Yes, you can. We encourage you to discuss the case with colleagues, friends and family, as well as sharing updates on social media.

How can I stay updated on the progress of this claim?

You will receive updates about the progress of this claim when you sign up to follow the case using the Register button above.  In addition, you can track the updates of the claim via this website and via social media channels.

The Class Representative

Information regarding who is bringing the claim, and the role of the class representative.

Who is bringing this claim?

Ad Tech Collective Action LLP is the proposed class representative – a limited liability partnership that has been incorporated to manage the claim against Google. The members of the partnership are Claudio Pollack, Charles Arthur and Kate Wellington. Claudio Pollack has spent more than 10 years in Director level roles at Ofcom, he’s experienced in competition, consumer, and small business matters. Charles Arthur has been a leading technology and science journalist and editor for more than 30 years – and during that time, he has written for various national publications, including The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, and The Independent. Kate Wellington is a lawyer by background (including in competition litigation matters) and runs the Costs Lawyer Standards Board. Kate also led the campaigning and policy arm of the legal team during her time at Which?

Claudio, Charles, and Kate are championing the cause for UK website owners, or mobile apps, who should have earned more from their ad sales since 1st January 2014.

Humphries Kerstetter LLP, Hausfeld & Co. LLP, and Geradin Partners are specialist law firms who are working together with Ad Tech Collective Action LLP to bring this claim. Further information can be found here. 

What is the role of the class representative?

Should Ad Tech Collective Action LLP be authorised to act as the class representative for this claim, it will be responsible for, amongst other things, communicating with the class and issuing formal notices to the class members. Claudio, Charles, and Kate, as the members of Ad Tech Collective Action LLP, will make decisions on the conduct of the claim and, in particular, will evaluate any offer of settlement that Google may make and decide whether to present it to the Competition Appeal Tribunal for their approval.

Further questions?

If you have any questions or would like any further information, please contact the class representative’s legal team here.

 

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Fill in your details to stay up to date as the case develops.

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