News (#9-10 September-October 2021)

Cases

Apple deprived of monopoly on payments for applications

According to a writ under a claim filed by Epic Games Inc, Apple Inc must now allow mobile app developers to redirect users to alternative resources to pay for services in the App Store.

For now, a 30% commission is charged on each purchase.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers concluded that Apples practice was uncompetitive and harmed users by depriving them of the opportunity to pay a lower price for services and then banned Apple from doing so. However, the court did not call Apple a monopolist.

Epic Games accused Apple of illegally using its monopoly position and restricting competition. The intention is to force Apple to cancel the commission through court action.

The judge, however, did not uphold such measures, although she stated that Apple had failed to sufficiently justify the introduction of such a commission on the purchase.

The claim that the commission is a developers fee for using the Apple platform, its intellectual property, as well as for access to the companys customer base, justifies the commission itself, but not its amount, the judge said.

The court ruling will limit Apples core source of revenue, analysts say. The company shares fell by 3.5% after a court ruling, which reduced its capitalization by almost USD 85 billion.

ourt in Netherlands recognized Uber taxi drivers as employees

The Amsterdam District Court has ruled that taxi drivers working through the Uber platform were, in fact, employees and that the company should hire them in a proper way and pay remuneration under a collective agreement.

The lawsuit was filed by FNV taxi drivers union due to a disagreement with the companys policy. In particular, they claim that most drivers earn less than the minimum wage. The union demanded that the company adjust its policy and pay drivers under a collective labor agreement designed for taxi drivers.

Claims regarding the terms of cooperation of taxi drivers with Uber were also filed in Britain, Belgium, and Switzerland.

In Britain, a court also recognized drivers working through the platform as employees with the right to a minimum wage and paid leave.

Shell to pay Nigeria USD 111 million for oil spill in 1970s

Oil giant Shell will pay the Nigerian community USD 111 million for the oil spill that took place during the 1967-70 war in the Biafran region.

At first, the Nigerian court fined Shell USD 41.36 million in 2010. Back then the company filed a number of appeals, none of which were upheld by the court.

Last year, the Supreme Court of Nigeria claimed that the companys fine with interest increased tenfold as compared to the first ruling, something which Shell denied.

Shell initiated international arbitration this year following a Supreme Court ruling in this case. However, the company eventually agreed to pay the equivalent of USD 111 million to the plaintiffs in the case, thereby closing it. The case was opened in 1991.

Shell continues to stick to the position that the spill was caused by a third party.

Privatbank Eurobond bail-in: ruling by Bank of England now conclusive

At the end of August three months had passed since the Bank of England recognized the bail-in procedure of Privatbanks Eurobonds during its nationalization process in 2016. No appeals have been submitted since then, thus making the ruling conclusive.

It is about the recognition of the bail-in procedure carried out by the National Bank in December 2016 for loans worth USD 595 million by the Bank of England on 14 May 2021.

Then the National Bank of Ukraine applied the procedure of forced conversion into the bank shares (bail-in) in respect of four loans granted by UK SPV Credit Finance plc to PrivatBank.

Pursuant to English law, any person that was affected by the ruling had three months from its date to submit an appeal to an English court. However, no appeal for a judicial review was filed to an English court during the said period.

Therefore, the ruling by the Bank of England is given legal force in England, it is now conclusive and not subject to appeal.

Earlier, the Bank of England recognized as legal the bail-in procedure for three issues of Privatbank Eurobonds worth USD 595 million held by the National Bank of Ukraine during the nationalization of Privatbank in 2016.

WhatsApp fined EUR 225 million in Ireland for violating privacy rules

The Irish regulator imposed a fine of EUR 225 million on WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, for exchanging personal data with other Facebook entities.

WhatsApp claimed it would appeal the fine and called it utterly disproportionate. The Office of the Data Privacy Commissioner (DPC) of Ireland stated that the case was related to the companys privacy policy, valid as of 2018.

In particular, the case concerns information that WhatsApp provided to consumers in respect of their personal data processing by other Facebook subsidiaries.

DPC is the main regulator of Facebook data privacy issues in the EU, as the regional headquarters is located in the countrys capital, Dublin.

Following the publication of the regulators preliminary decision, the European Data Protection Board issued a guideline requiring DPC to reassess and increase the proposed fine due to a number of factors.

Finally, the regulator decided to impose an admonition and a fine of EUR 225 million on WhatsApp, as well as to oblige the company to take specific measures to protect personal data.

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