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Court rules EU must pay fraction of legal fees claimed by Qualcomm

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BRUSSELS: Europe’s second highest court said European regulators should pay 785,857.54 euros ($851,634) in legal fees to Qualcomm, less than 10 percent of the 12 million euros claimed by the manufacturer American chip company after winning an appeal against an antitrust fine.

The Luxembourg Court said the number of hours worked and hourly rates used in Qualcomm’s request were “manifestly excessive.”

Qualcomm submitted its bill to the European Commission in 2022 after the Court supported the American group’s fight against an antitrust fine of 997 million euros imposed by the EU in 2018 and ordered the regulator to pay the costs of justice from Qualcomm.

The Commission, however, contested the amount of 12,041,755.80 euros requested by the company, considering that the amount should be 405,315 euros.

Qualcomm said its bill was based on the importance and complexity of the case as well as the amount of work done by a team of 19 people.

In a ruling dated February 29 and published on the court’s website, the judges rejected the American company’s arguments, saying that courts were only concerned with the total number of work hours necessary for the legal proceedings, regardless of the number of lawyers involved in the case.

They consider that the hourly rates were not presented based on precise and clearly identified tasks and that the extent of the research and analyzes as well as the numerous documents produced before the court were not sufficient to justify the sums claimed nor that the work relating to it was necessarily undertaken.

“The applicant’s request is insufficiently motivated and manifestly excessive both in terms of the amounts claimed and the number of hours and the related hourly rates,” the judges indicated.

The court set the total amount of fees, including costs, for the law firm Quinn Emanuel at 754,190 euros and 31,667.54 euros for the economic consultancy firm Compass Lexecon/FTI.

The judges rejected a claim for 302,658.10 euros for legal services provided by law firm Cravath Swaine & Moore because they were documents obtained in US proceedings and later produced as evidence in the European dispute.

The case is T‑235/18 DEP Qualcomm v European Commission.

($1 = 0.9228 euros)

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