Mastercard has seen U.K. consumers file a £14 billion legal claim against the company over anticompetitive card fees.
According to the BBC, the lawsuit has to do with a 2014 ruling by the European Court of Justice, which found regulators were correct to condemn the cost of interchange fees — the fees retailers pay banks to process credit card transactions. Mastercard lowered the fees, but the claim from the U.K. consumers is for damages for the fees it charged from 1992–2008.
"Now that the claim has been filed, we will take time to review it in detail. However, we continue to firmly disagree with the basis of this claim, and we intend to oppose it vigorously," Mastercard said in the report. "We deliver real value through the benefits of security, convenience and consumer protection, and we are committed to investing in our payment services in order to continue to meet the rapidly evolving needs of all our customers."
According to the report, Mastercard had been fighting a protracted battle against the European Union’s competition watchdog for seven years now. The battle ended with the European Court ruling. The claim by the consumers is being led by former Financial Ombudsman Walter Merricks, who has the backing of law firm Quinn Emanuel, under the new Consumer Rights Act.
The first stage is to take it to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) in London, the report noted. "The filing of this claim is the first step towards consumers obtaining compensation for what Mastercard did," Merricks said. “I am confident that the CAT will authorize the claim to go forward, and I look forward to the opportunity to present our case. This is a watershed moment for consumer redress in this country."
If the consumers are successful in the first stage, a full trial hearing is not expected to happen until 2018.