Mastercard £14bn class action case returns to court next month - what it means for you
A landmark class action case against Mastercard, which if successful could see millions of UK consumers receive £100s each in damages, is set to return to court next month. It's the latest step in a case that has rolled on for almost five years. Here's an update on the most recent developments and what the next stage means for consumers.
Former chief ombudsman of the Financial Ombudsman Service, Walter Merricks - represented by law firm Quinn Emanuel - first launched the case against Mastercard in 2016. He claims the card giant charged unlawful fees to retailers and businesses processing transactions between 22 May 1992 and 21 June 2008.
Mr Merricks believes these fees were then passed onto shoppers in the form of higher prices - regardless of whether you paid by Mastercard or not. The class action case represents all consumers who made purchases in the UK during the time frame above, and at the time were aged 16 and over and had lived in the UK continuously for at least three months. It's estimated each person could get £300 if the case is successful, but there's no guarantee it will be - Mastercard contests the claim and says it "fundamentally" disagrees with it.
According to Quinn Emanuel, the case will be the first mass consumer claim brought under the new collective action regime introduced by Parliament in the Consumer Rights Act 2015. See our Consumer Rights guide for more on your legal protection and what the Consumer Rights Act means for you.
Hearing set for the end of March
The next step in the process is a hearing, which will take place at the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) on 25 and 26 March. This will consider what can be included within the scope of the case and whether the case can proceed. A judgment on that question is expected by the end of May, although this isn't set in stone. A timetable for the case to further progress will then be set out, though it could still be at least a couple of years before there's a final outcome.
Any proposed class action member or other interested party who wants to make an oral or written submission to the CAT about the case has until Friday 5 March to do so. You've also got until Monday 15 March to object to the claim. This must be done in writing - you can see more info in this legal notice, while the address to return submissions to is listed on the Mastercard Consumer Claim website.
The litigation is backed by third-party litigation funder Innsworth Capital Limited, which has set aside £60.1 million to pay for it - it will take a cut of the damages if the case is successful.
How the case has progressed to date
Here's a quick summary of the key developments so far in the Merricks v Mastercard case:
- September 2016: Walter Merricks files his claim to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT).
- July 2017: The CAT ruled that it couldn't look into class action cases of this nature.
- August 2017: Mr Merricks asked for permission to appeal the CAT's decision.
- September 2017: The CAT rejected Mr Merricks' application for appeal, so he instead asked for permission from the Court of Appeal.
- April 2019: The Court of Appeal granted permission for Mr Merricks to pursue the case.
- July 2019: Mastercard appealed to the Supreme Court against the Court of Appeal's decision.
- December 2020: The Supreme Court ruled against Mastercard and said Mr Merricks' case could continue at the CAT.
What does Mastercard say?
A Mastercard spokesperson said: “This claim isn’t being brought by UK consumers but is being driven by US lawyers. We fundamentally disagree with this claim and know people have received valuable benefits from Mastercard’s payments technology.”
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