European Court Orders EU to Reimburse Qualcomm €785,000 in Legal Expenses, Though the Chipmaker Had Demanded €12 Million

The General Court of the European Union has directed the European Union to reimburse part of the legal costs incurred by chipmaker Qualcomm during a dispute over an antitrust fine inflicted by the European Commission. The processor developer had previously won an appeal regarding this issue. Based on court rulings, EU regulators are required to pay Qualcomm an amount of €785,857.54, a fraction of the €12 million claimed by the chipmaker.

The General Court of the EU highlighted in its ruling that Qualcomm has claimed an “obviously excessive” number of lawyer hours and their hourly rates. In 2022, the American company demanded the European Commission to compensate its legal expenses, a total of €12,041,755.80. This sum, Qualcomm argued, is based on the importance and complexity of the case and the volume of work carried out by a team of 19 individuals. The European Commission contested this sum, proposing a compensation of €405,315 instead.

After reviewing the case’s circumstances, the General Court of the European Union, in its ruling published on its website on February 29, rejected the American company’s arguments. The court declared that only the total cumulative hours spent on the legal proceedings matter, regardless of the number of lawyers involved.

The ruling noted that Qualcomm did not provide information about hourly rates concerning specific, clearly defined tasks. Despite a considerable volume of research and analysis, along with numerous documents submitted to the court, this was insufficient to justify the sums claimed, nor to prove that such work had been completed.

“The applicant’s claim is insufficiently justified and clearly excessive, both in terms of sums claimed and hours spent and corresponding hourly rates,” the court reported. It determined the total amount of compensation, including the expenses of Quinn Emanuel law firm, to be €754,190 and €31,667.54 for economic consulting by Compass Lexecon/FTI.

The court, however, dismissed a claim for payment of €302,658.10 for legal services provided by the law firm Cravath Swaine & Moore. The firm’s services pertained to documents obtained during proceedings in the US and subsequently presented as evidence in the EU lawsuit.

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