Mastercard faces revival of £14bn class action lawsuit in UK

Claim has been lodged on behalf of 46 million customers

Mastercard said the claim was “completely unsuitable to be brought under the collective actions regime”. Photograph: Joan Cros Garcia/Corbis via Getty Images

Mastercard said the claim was “completely unsuitable to be brought under the collective actions regime”. Photograph: Joan Cros Garcia/Corbis via Getty Images

 

A proposed £14 billion (€15.4 billion) class-action lawsuit against Mastercard is being revived after lawyers filed to appeal against a ruling that barred the case from heading to trial last month.

Lawyers for former financial ombudsman Walter Merricks have made their application to the UK’s competition appeal tribunal (CAT) just weeks after it refused to certify his claim.

Mr Merricks’s claim was lodged on behalf of nearly 46 million consumers and alleged that Mastercard’s interchange fees forced consumers to pay higher prices to businesses that accept Mastercard over a 16-year period, therefore breaching European Union competition law.

The damages being sought were more than £14 billion.

The tribunal last month ruled that the case could not proceed through a so-called collective action, saying that even if losses had been suffered and could be estimated across the whole class, there was no way of ensuring that an individual would receive an amount compensating for any loss suffered.

Mr Merricks said the tribunal should have considered the “clear policy intent” behind the claim against Mastercard.

“In essence this is a simple case. It has been conclusively established that Mastercard acted unlawfully and anti-competitively in imposing excessive credit and debit card fees,” Mr Merricks said.

“If I can establish the total amount of harm that Mastercard has caused to UK consumers, then why should consumers then get nothing at all if I cannot calculate the precise loss that each individual consumer suffered?

“Rather than allow consumer recovery, this would reward unlawful conduct by allowing companies to keep their ill-gotten gains,” he said.

Mastercard has until September 8th to respond to the filing, after which point the tribunal could decide to hold a hearing on the appeal application before issuing its judgment.

A spokesman for Mastercard said: “We believe that any appeal or review by Walter Merricks is without merit and that the competition appeal tribunal’s judgment to refuse certification for the proposed collective action was the correct decision.

“Mastercard maintains that this claim is completely unsuitable to be brought under the collective actions regime.”