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Claimants’ Lawyers Try to Keep Details of Litigation Funding Agreement Secret in Mass Claim Against Google

Claimants’ lawyers in the £920 million class action against Google are attempting to keep details of the litigation funding agreement behind the claim from being disclosed.

“Google has been targeted by a planned UK mass antitrust claim over its Play Store charges and conditions,” writes MLex. The “collective claim alleges that Google’s commission fee on digital app purchases breaches competition rules.”

At a case management hearing before the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal, the claimants’ lawyers told a panel of judges that “Google wants to have parts of the claim’s files unredacted: its litigation funding agreement, legal expenses insurance policy and overall litigation budget.”

The class representative “requested confidentiality for certain information related to the claim,” writes MLex, “[b]ut Google asked that some provisions in those three documents be disclosed into a confidentiality ring, a system where access to specified sensitive documents is granted only to a small group, typically lawyers and experts, before trial.”

“The redactions disputed by Google include over excess lawyer fees set out in the [litigation funding] agreement and the insurance policy’s deposit premium.”

While the claimants’ lawyers argue that the material should be kept confidential, lawyers for Google argue that there should be full disclosure and that the court needs to be able to scrutinize the funding agreement. 

Google says that the requested material is relevant to determining the class representative’s ability to fund the claim, and well as meet adverse costs (in the event that the claim is lost).

“To allow the redactions would be akin to allowing [the class representative] to ‘mark her own homework,’ said Google’s lawyer.

Without transparency, the court, the defendant, and even the other class members do not know how much of any eventual award or settlement has already been promised away to the lawyers and the funder. This lack of transparency allows the funders to put their investment interests ahead of the interests of the claimants.

A ruling on whether or not the redacted information will be disclosed is expected at a later date.


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