The UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (“CAT”) recently denied an application for a collective proceedings order (“CPO”) filed against Meta Platforms, Inc., Meta Platforms Ireland Limited, and Facebook UK Limited (“Respondents”). The application, which was brought by proposed class representative (“PCR”) Dr. Liza Lovdahl Gormsen under section 47B of the Competition Act, accused the Respondents of abusing their dominant position in the market contrary to Chapter II of the Act by requiring their social media platform users to share their personal data and agree to receive targeted advertising, without compensation.
The CAT denied the CPO application after finding significant problems with the methodology presented by the proposed PCR’s expert on how the PCR would demonstrate and calculate losses and damages suffered by the class. The CAT determined that while there were three possible causes of action – unfair data requirement abuse, unfair trading conditions abuse, and unfair price abuse – the expert methodology provided compensation to the class that varied significantly depending on the cause of action. The CAT further determined that the application “unequivocally” failed to meet the test in Pos-Sys Consultants v. Microsoft (“the Pos-Sys test”), a test that determines whether a methodology exists that can sufficiently demonstrate a common loss on a class-wide basis and enable proceedings to progress in an effective and efficient manner. Due to the inadequate pleadings and methodology, the Tribunal was also unable to perform the requisite cost/benefit analysis on the continuation of proceedings in this case.
The CAT stayed the CPO application for a period of six months in order to allow the PCR additional time to set out a new and better blueprint for trial. If a new and better blueprint is not provided within the timeframe provided, the Tribunal will lift the stay and reject the CPO application.