A class of UK consumers, represented by former chief financial services ombudsman, Walter Merricks, has filed a £14bn claim against Mastercard for losses that they allege occurred as a result of interchange fees charged by Mastercard during the period 1992 to 2008. The charges, already found to have infringed EU law in 2014, are alleged to have resulted in customers paying more for goods than they should have as a result of retailers passing on the higher charges to their customers. The law firm, Quinn Emanuel is representing the claimant group, and the action is reportedly being funded by the US litigation funder, Gerchen Keller Capital, to the tune of £40m.
Notably, the claim has been filed with the Competition Appeal Tribunal under the newly in force Consumer Rights Act 2015, which established an “opt-out” regime for consumer class actions in relation to anti-competitive behaviour. The consequences for Mastercard could therefore be very wide-reaching. An initial hearing is expected to be heard by the end of the year, with a trial likely commencing in 2018.