Apple accused of breaking UK law by overcharging for apps

Gabby Fernie

Apple is facing a legal claim after being accused of breaking UK competition law for overcharging millions of people for apps on its Apple store, according to a report by The Guardian

The claim has been filed in the competition appeal tribunal and could mean up to £1.5bn being paid in damages to as many as 19.6m customers. 

Apple is already the subject of a court case in the US by Fortnite maker Epic Games, which has protested that the iPhone maker taking a 15-30 per cent commission for in-app purchases stifles its competition.

The UK collective action has been brought by Dr Rachael Kent, an expert in the digital economy and a lecturer at King’s College, London. She backs up Epic Games argument that Apple deliberately shuts out competition in its app store, forcing customers to use its own payment system, and generating excessive profits for itself in the process.

“The App Store was a brilliant gateway for a range of interesting and innovative services that millions of us find useful, myself included. But 13 years after its launch, it has become the only gateway for millions of consumers" Kent told The Guardian. “Apple guards access to the world of apps jealously, and charges entry and usage fees that are completely unjustified. This is the behaviour of a monopolist and is unacceptable.”

The claim says any UK user of an iPhone or iPad who purchased paid apps, paid subscriptions or made any other in-app purchases within the UK version of the App Store since 1 October 2015 could be entitled to compensation over the firm’s “anti-competitive practices”.

Apple has not yet commented on this new claim, but previously defended the App Store as an 'engine of economic growth', creating jobs and other opportunities for developers.