On November 10, 2021, the UK Supreme Court blocked, in the Lloyd (Respondent) v. Google LLC (Appellant) Case, a $4.3 billion class action against Google. According to a UK Supreme Court press summary, the Respondent claimed that in late 2011 and early 2012, Google breached its duties as a data controller by secretly tracking and using data derived from millions of Apple iPhone users’ internet activity. The Respondent claimed “to represent everyone resident in England and Wales who owned an Apple iPhone at the relevant time and whose data were obtained by Google without their consent, and to be entitled to recover damages on behalf of all these people.”
The Supreme Court decided on whether the Respondent can bring a claim against Google LLC in a representative capacity seeking compensation for damage allegedly suffered by a class of Apple iPhone users as a result of unlawful processing by Google of their personal data. The Respondent, by claiming that the “same interest” requirement “which allows a claim to be brought by (or against) one or more persons as representatives of others” is fulfilled, applied to obtain the Supreme Court’s permission “to serve the claim form on Google outside the jurisdiction” since Google is a Delaware corporation. Google opposed the application. The Supreme Court refused permission to serve this representative claim to Google by reasoning that: (i) the legal basis for the claim entitles an individual who suffers damage, and damage is understood as financial loss or mental distress as a result of unlawful processing, not the unlawful processing itself, and (ii) the Respondent did not prove how an unlawful processing by Google occurred to a given individual.