On the morning of 10 November 2021, the Supreme Court issued a judgment throwing out a class action accusing Google of breaching its duties as a data controller under the Data Protection Act 1998 from late 2011 to early 2012. On his own behalf, and on behalf of a class of 4 million iPhone users in England and Wales whose internet activity was allegedly tracked by Google, Lloyd sought damages against Google. He claimed that the data collected was used to enable targeted advertising without the users’ consent, and for Google’s own commercial benefit.
However, the Court held that Lloyd brought the case for damages without having shown that Google made any wrongful use of the personal data relating to the individuals in the class, or that they had suffered any material damage or distress caused by Google. As such, the members of the class were not entitled to any compensation and Lloyd has been denied the Court’s permission to serve the claim on Google outside of the UK.
The judgment also sheds useful light on the Supreme Court’s position on class actions. It affirmed that Civil Procedure Rule 19.6 was good standing on which to bring a claim on behalf of one or more persons who have the same interest. Lord Leggatt confirmed that the ‘same interest’ requirement must be interpreted purposively and pragmatically, and that each individual represented may have a separate cause of action. However, he clarifies that a claim for damages under a representative action must be calculated on a basis that is common to all individuals in the class.
The judgment can be read on the Supreme Court website here.
Please contact Tim Cowen if you have any questions about the judgment.