On 10 November 2021, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom issued its long-awaited decision in the Google/Lloyd case. The proceedings took place on the basis of the ‘representative action’ system, in which a representative member of the group litigates on behalf of the group (par, 3-5, 25). Lloyd litigated against Google on behalf of Google users for violations of privacy laws.
According to the Supreme Court, this representative action is not suitable for damage arising from privacy breaches because it requires the damage to be determined concretely and individually. The exact damage of each Google user differs per case and cannot be estimated. Therefore, the claim cannot succeed (par. 80, 86-87, 115 & 159). The Supreme Court did consider that in such cases of mass damage in the digital context, a collective action is the only possibility ‘to come at justice’ (par. 67). However, English law does not offer this possibility. The outcome of the case will likely affect a number of related privacy violation cases, all based on the system of representative action.