Mastercard £14bn class action case given green light to go ahead
A landmark class action case against Mastercard, which if successful could see millions of UK consumers potentially receive £100s each in damages, has been given the green light to go ahead.
Former chief ombudsman of the Financial Ombudsman Service, Walter Merricks, who is represented by law firm Quinn Emanuel, first launched the case in 2016. Mr Merricks argues that Mastercard charged unlawful fees to retailers and businesses processing transactions between 22 May 1992 and 21 June 2008 and that these costs were then passed onto shoppers in the forms of higher prices – whether they paid by Mastercard or not.
But the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT) has this week 'certified' the claim against Mastercard, which means the case can now move to trial. The judgement follows a hearing held this March which considered what could be included within the scope of the case and whether the case could proceed. The next hearing is expected to take place in September or October, although an exact date has yet to be confirmed.
Mr Merricks' class action case represents all consumers who made purchases in the UK during the time frame detailed above, who were aged 16 or over, and had lived in the UK continuously for at least three months. However, the CAT has declined Mr Merricks’ request to include deceased people in the claim and to add compound interest to any payouts.
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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 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.
- August 2021: The CAT has given permission for the case to go to trial following a hearing in March 2021.
What do Walter Merricks and Mastercard say?
Commenting on this week's decision, Walter Merricks said: "The Tribunal’s ruling heralds the start of an era of consumer-focused class actions which will help to hold big business to account in areas that really matter, which is an area I have spent much of my working life fighting for and something which I am proud to be a part of."
A Mastercard spokesperson said: “This claim isn’t being brought by UK consumers but is being driven by lawyers, backed by organisations primarily focused on making money for themselves."