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British Court Denies Mastercard Appeal in $19B Class-Action Lawsuit

 |  November 29, 2022

A British court has denied Mastercard’s appeal that’s part of a 16-billion-pound (about $19 billion) class-action suit.

The ruling allows the estates of 3 million people who have died since the suit began to remain as claimants, denying Mastercard’s challenge to their inclusion, Reuters reported Tuesday (Nov. 29).

When announcing the ruling, Judge Julian Flaux said the purpose of lawsuits like this one is to provide access to justice for claimants who would not otherwise have it, according to the report.

“The effect of Mastercard’s case would be to thwart, at least to a significant extent, the overall purpose of the regime,” Flaux said, per the report.

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The lawyer of lead plaintiff Walter Merricks, Willkie Farr & Gallagher Partner Boris Bronfentrinker, said in a statement emailed to PYMNTS that the scope of the class included in the suit is now settled, following several unsuccessful appeals by Mastercard that have only delayed the proceedings and run up the legal costs.

“Mr. Merricks is pleased with today’s judgment and looks forward to now prevailing on the merits to secure the billions in damages owed by Mastercard to U.K. consumers,” Bronfentrinker said.

As PYMNTS reported in March 2021, this class-action suit was filed in 2016 and accuses Mastercard of overcharging close to 60 million British residents over the course of 16 years.

Merricks claims that Mastercard charged exorbitant “interchange fees” — which retailers pay credit card companies when consumers shop with that card — and that those fees were passed onto consumers in the form of higher retail prices.

Mastercard counters that consumers derived valuable benefits from its payments technology, Reuters reported at the time.

Mastercard said Tuesday in a statement emailed to PYMNTS: “This case isn’t about helping consumers. This flawed claim is being pushed by lawyers and their financial backers primarily focused on making money for themselves and is likely to take years to conclude. We will continue to fight it and are confident that, once the facts are presented in court, the case will be thrown out.”

In his statement emailed to PYMNTS, Bronfentrinker said the specialist competition courts’ certification of the claims shows that the court believes that it meets the legislative requirements and is in the interest of consumers.

“As to the claim not being meritorious, all of [Mastercard’s] attempts to stop the claim so far have failed, and Mastercard has not been willing to apply to strike it out,” Bronfentrinker said. “The case now has hearing dates and is on track to be resolved before too long.”