Luke Streatfeild, Hausfeld

Who? Luke Streatfeild, partner and competition litigation specialist, Hausfeld, London.

Why is he in the news? The firm, representing proposed class representative and consumer campaigner Nikki Stopford, filed a collective claim against Google this month claiming that Google has used its search engine dominance to shut out competition.

Thoughts on the case: ‘This is about defaults in digital markets, specifically the default status Google search has across almost all UK mobile devices. This case says that default status blocks competition and leads to higher costs and lower quality – you can see this in the search page, which is increasingly crowded with ads. The European Commission imposed its biggest ever fine on Google for part of this conduct, and similar complaints are being made in the US by the Department of Justice. This is about correcting the UK position and obtaining compensation for UK consumers.’

A Google spokesperson said: ‘This case is speculative and opportunistic – we will argue against it vigorously. People use Google because it is helpful. We only make money if ads are useful and relevant, as indicated by clicks – at a price that is set by a real-time auction. Advertising plays a crucial role in helping people discover new businesses, new causes and new products.’ 

Dealing with the media: ‘Nikki Stopford has been championing consumer rights for decades and takes the lead with the media on the case. The media plays an important role in collective proceedings. Our client is bringing the claim on behalf of affected consumers and we need to publicise the proceedings and give people the opportunity to stay informed about its progress. If the case is successful (either on settlement or judgment) there will then be an extensive exercise of communicating with consumers who are entitled to compensation, but that is not happening yet as we have only just filed the case.’

Why become a lawyer? ‘I wanted to be an environmental litigator but gravitated to competition litigation as this sector offers a unique set of procedures for enforcement under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.’

Career low: ‘It was my birthday. It was the end of the second day of a bitterly contested arbitration hearing. We had worked on the case for three years. We had a great settlement proposal almost agreed and the next day was fraught with risk for our client, as he was going on the stand. The client decided to walk away from the negotiation, because he was hungry.’

Career high: ‘The client changed his mind!  More seriously, the best thing about the job is getting the right result for any client. A good judgment is a good judgment, but you never know what you are going to get, and so a good settlement is even better.’