A PYMNTS Company

MasterCard Faces UK Supreme Court Over Antitrust Class Action Suit

 |  May 13, 2020

MasterCard faces two days in front of Britain’s highest court to determine whether it potentially owes every adult in the UK a collective £14billion, reported Law360. 

Former financial ombudsman Walter Merricks is taking the card provider to court, claiming the fees it charged shops between 1992 and 2008, declared unlawful by the European Commission, resulted in consumers paying higher prices.

If the Supreme Court upholds his case after the two-day hearing, MasterCard will likely face another trial which will determine whether it owes damages to more than 46million people, even if they never paid with a MasterCard during the 16-year period.

Mr Merricks’ case is one of the first mass consumer ‘opt out’ collective action cases to be brought since the Consumer Rights Act opened the door to these types of claims in 2015.

The law makes it easier for consumers and companies to seek compensation in competition claims by giving them six years to bring a case, up from two years previously, and by enabling anyone forming part of the suing ‘class’ to be a part of the case.

Before, those bringing a case would have to advertise or contact those potentially affected to get them to opt in.

Kenny Henderson, a partner at law firm CMS CMNO, said the 2015 act and the new opt out rules not only meant bigger claims could be brought, but ‘also ones that wouldn’t have previously been brought at all.’

The case brought by Mr Merricks, which claimed MasterCard’s unlawful fees for retailers were passed onto consumers for 16 years in the form of higher prices, was initially thrown out by a competition tribunal in 2017 but was revived by the Court of Appeal last April.

MasterCard was given permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, which will hear the case between 13-14 May.