The UK Court of Appeals has overturned a formerly favourable Mastercard interchange fee ruling. The £14 billion lawsuit against Mastercard for imposing charges on UK consumers looks set to proceed after the court reversed its earlier decision by the Competition Appeals Tribunal to block it.
The tribunal’s 2017 ruling reversal will allow the claimants, led by former financial ombudsman Walter Merricks, to have their case for certification of their class action reheard.
Mr Merricks is seeking £14 billion in damages from the payments group on behalf of 46 million UK consumers for losses suffered as a result of alleged illegal interchange fees. “I am very pleased with today’s decision,” said Mr Merricks. “It is nearly 12 years since Mastercard was clearly told that they had broken the law by imposing excessive card transaction charges, damaging consumers over a prolonged period.”
No liability has been established against Mastercard and the decision does not give automatic certification to Mr Merricks’ suit, which is required before the case can be taken to trial. The payments provider said it would appeal to the Supreme Court.
Mastercard said: “This decision is not a final ruling and the proposed claim is not approved to move forward, rather the court has simply said a rehearing on certain issues should happen.”
“Mastercard continues to disagree fundamentally with the basis of the claim and we believe UK consumers receive real value from the security, convenience and consumer protection of our payment services,” it added.
The case was initially brought against Mastercard in 2016 amid claims it allegedly infringed on EU competition law and imposed high card charges that were ultimately passed on to shoppers over a 16-year period ending in 2008.
The lawsuit alleged that cross-border charges on the use of Mastercard debit and credit cards — known as interchange fee — were a significant cost for retailers. This cost was then passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services, it claimed.
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