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Supreme Court Paves Way for £14bn Mastercard UK Class Action Claim

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US-based financial services and card payment corporation Mastercard with global revenues of £12bn are facing a £14bn class action claim for allegedly overcharging over 45 million British consumers during a 15-year period.

The group action claim is being run by former financial ombudsman Walter Merricks. The claim alledges that millions of UK consumers paid higher prices in shops over a 15-year period because of allegedly excessive transaction fees charged by the company. Merricks claims the maximum compensation amount would be approximately £300 for anyone who can prove they were in the UK in the 16 years between 1992 and 2008.

The supreme court judgment upholds a previous court of appeal decision in 2019, laying the legal foundations for a mass consumer claim. In the latest chapter of this massively complex claim, an appeal by Mastercard was dismissed by the supreme court, which was brought after the company lost a lengthy appeal against a 2007 European commission ruling that its fees were anti-competitive. Commenting on the judgement, Merricks said:

Mastercard has been a sustained competition law breaker, imposing excessive card transaction charges over a prolonged period in a way it must have known would impose an invisible tax on UK consumers… (the prices of) everything we all bought from 1992 to 2008 were higher than they should have been”.

The credit card company said it fundamentally disagreed with a claim that it said was being driven by “hit and hope” A company spokesperson said:

Mastercard will be asking the Competition Appeal Tribunal (which will oversee the case) to avert the serious risk of the new collective action regime going down the wrong path with a case which is fundamentally flawed.”

The ruling was welcomed by consumer groups, with Which? calling it an “important win”. The legal sector is also keenly following developments, with many stating that the decision may well have significant ripple effects, with an increase in the number of class actions filed in the future.

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