Court says EU must pay a fraction of legal fees sought by Qualcomm

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Qualcomm is seen during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 27, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Europe's second highest court has said EU regulators should pay 785,857.54 euros ($851,634) of legal fees for Qualcomm, less than 10% of the 12 million euros sought by the U.S. chipmaker after it won an appeal against an antitrust fine.

The Luxembourg-based General Court said the number of hours worked and hourly rates used in Qualcomm's claim was "manifestly excessive".

Qualcomm submitted its legal bill to the European Commission in 2022 after the General Court backed the U.S. group's fight against a 997 million euro EU antitrust fine issued in 2018 and ordered the regulator to pay Qualcomm's legal costs.

The Commission, however, disputed the 12,041,755.80 euros sought by the company, saying the amount should be 405,315 euros.

Qualcomm said its legal bill was based on the importance and complexity of the case and the quantity of work done by a team of 19.

Judges in a ruling dated Feb. 29 posted on the court's website dismissed the U.S. company's arguments, saying courts were concerned only with the total number of hours of work necessary for the legal proceedings, irrespective of the number of lawyers involved in the case.

They said hourly rates were not presented in relation to specific, clearly identified tasks and that the substantial amount of research and analysis and adduced numerous documents before the court was not sufficient to substantiate the sums claimed or that the work relating to them was necessarily incurred.

"The applicant's request is insufficiently substantiated and manifestly excessive as regards both the amounts claimed and the numbers of hours and related hourly rates," judges said.

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

Judges rejected a request for 302,658.10 euros for legal services provided by law firm Cravath Swaine & Moore as these were for documents obtained in U.S proceedings and subsequently produced as evidence in the EU litigation.

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

($1 = 0.9228 euros)

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Mark Potter)

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