Around 29m UK smartphone users may be due compensation - here's why

Thursday, 25th February 2021, 11:56 am
Updated Thursday, 25th February 2021, 11:56 am
Individuals could be due up to £30 each in compensation (Photo: Shutterstock)

If a legal claim from consumer watchdog Which? is successful, around 29 million smartphone users in the UK may be entitled to up to £30 compensation each.

Which? says that the chipmaker, Qualcomm, was in breach of the law by taking advantage of its monopoly in the chip and patent licensing markets. The claim is that the chipmaker inflated its fees for manufacturers, which then handed on higher prices to consumers in the cost of smartphones.

The watchdog is now seeking damages for all impacted Samsung and Apple phones which were purchased since 1 October 2015.

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Depending on the type of phone purchased, Which? estimates that individuals could be due up to £30 each in compensation, with the total compensation amounting to a potential £480 million across the UK.

Qualcomm said the case brought against them had "no basis", telling the BBC: "As the plaintiffs are well aware, their claims were effectively put to rest last summer by a unanimous panel of judges at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States."

'These practices are anti-competitive'

Anabel Hoult, chief executive of Which? told the BBC, however, that the company "believe Qualcomm's practices are anti-competitive and have so far taken around £480m from consumers' pockets - this needs to stop."

"We are sending a clear warning that if companies like Qualcomm indulge in manipulative practices which harm consumers, Which? is prepared to take action," she said.

The claim has been filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which will decide whether it can go ahead. 

This is not the first time Qualcomm has faced allegations around anti-competitive practices, having been fined €997 million (around £858 million) in 2018 by the European Commission for violating competition laws.

In 2019, another fine was levied by the Commission, after Qualcomm abused its dominant position in the 3G chipset market. The company is currently appealing against both findings.