EU Court Slashes Qualcomm's Legal Fees After Antitrust Triumph

In a recent legal development, the General Court of the European Union ruled that EU regulators must pay a fraction of the legal fees requested by Qualcomm, the U.S. chipmaker. This decision comes after Qualcomm emerged victorious in an appeal against a substantial antitrust fine imposed by the European Commission.

Regulatory Adjustment: EU to Pay 10% of Qualcomm's Claimed Fees

The Luxembourg-based General Court mandated EU regulators to compensate Qualcomm with 785,857.54 euros, a mere fraction of the 12 million euros initially sought by the chip giant. This ruling underscores the court's assertion that the hours worked and hourly rates presented in Qualcomm's claim were deemed "manifestly excessive."

Qualcomm's Legal Battle and Subsequent Billing Dispute

In 2022, Qualcomm submitted its legal bill to the European Commission following the General Court's support in overturning a 997 million euro EU antitrust fine from 2018. The court not only annulled the fine but also directed the regulator to cover Qualcomm's legal expenses. However, the Commission contested Qualcomm's requested amount of 12,041,755.80 euros, proposing a significantly lower figure of 405,315 euros.

Court's Critique on Qualcomm's Billing Details

The Luxembourg court rejected Qualcomm's argument that the substantial legal bill was justified by the case's importance and complexity, along with the extensive work carried out by a 19-member legal team. In a ruling dated Feb. 29, the court asserted that they only consider the total hours necessary for legal proceedings, irrespective of the number of lawyers involved.

Hourly Rates and Detailed Tasks Scrutinized

Judges further criticized the lack of presentation of hourly rates concerning specific tasks and questioned the sufficiency of research and analysis provided. The court contended that the multitude of documents presented before the court did not adequately substantiate the sums claimed or the necessity of the work attributed to them.

Breakdown of Approved Fees

The court finalized the total fee, including expenses, for law firm Quinn Emanuel at 754,190 euros, and economic consultancy Compass Lexecon/FTI at 31,667.54 euros. Notably, a request for 302,658.10 euros for legal services by Cravath Swaine & Moore was rejected. The court deemed these services as pertaining to documents obtained in U.S. proceedings, subsequently used as evidence in the EU litigation.

Case Reference: T‑235/18 DEP Qualcomm vs European Commission

In conclusion, the court's decision to significantly reduce Qualcomm's claimed legal fees sends a clear message on the need for detailed substantiation and moderation in billing practices within the realm of antitrust litigation.

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