An unprecedented legal bid to bring a class action lawsuit against Mastercard – which could have seen 46 million consumers each receive £100s in compensation – has been turned down by a tribunal.
The Competition Appeal Tribunal refused former financial services ombudsman Walter Merricks' application to lodge a £14 billion class action against the card firm.
The bid revolved around Merricks' claim that Mastercard broke competition law for 15 years between 1992 and 2007 by charging excessive 'interchange fees' – the fees a retailer pays to your credit or debit card company when you use your card.
Merricks claims retailers would have then passed on these charges to consumers in the form of higher prices, though Mastercard "strongly opposed" the claim.
The claim was being brought on behalf of ALL affected UK shoppers – unless they chose to opt out of it – and would have likely affected anyone living in the UK, who was of working age between 1992 and 2008, regardless of whether they had a Mastercard.
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Merricks: 'I'm considering an appeal'
Walter Merricks said: "I am surprised and disappointed that the Competition Appeal Tribunal has rejected my application to bring collective proceedings against Mastercard."
He added that he was disappointed that the tribunal felt his team would not have the evidence to show fees were passed onto consumers, and that they could not calculate the loss to each of the 46 million consumers.
He said: "I believe these are matters my advisers could have addressed and overcome had the claim been allowed to proceed. I am actively considering with my advisers and litigation funders the possibility of an appeal."
What does Mastercard say?
A spokesperson said: "We welcome the Competition Appeal Tribunal's judgment refusing certification for the proposed collective action. As set out in Mastercard's arguments to date, we believe that the claims were completely unsuitable to be brought under the collective actions regime. The tribunal sided with this position.
"We firmly believe that consumers derive real value from our network through the benefits of security, convenience and consumer protection, and we remain committed to investing in our services in order to continue to meet the rapidly evolving needs of all our customers."