NEARLY every adult Brit could be entitled to a £300 payout from Mastercard after a landmark court ruling.
Former financial ombudsman Walter Merricks has brought a £14billion lawsuit against the payment giant, claiming they owe money to 46million consumers.
Merricks claims that’s how many UK residents paid more than they should have done in transaction fees charged by Mastercard during a 16-year period.
That means that if his claim goes to trial and he wins, anyone who can prove they were in the UK between 1992 and 2008 will get the £300 payout.
And it doesn’t matter if you didn’t even have a Mastercard — the claim is that anyone who made payments in Britain at the time was hit with unfairly high transaction fees.
Plus this kind of legal case is opt out, meaning if Merricks ultimately wins then everyone entitled to a payout will get paid unless they explicitly refuse it, without having any direct involvement with the trial.
It all started in 2007 when the European Commission found Mastercard had breached competition law in relation to setting certain fees charged between banks in Mastercard transactions.
Then in 2017, the Competition Appeal Tribunal slapped down Merrick’s original claim for damages, saying it would not allow the case to go trial.
But now the court of appeal has ordered the tribunal to reconsider what is now the biggest class action in British legal history.
Merricks alleges that Mastercard’s breaches of competition law led to UK consumers paying higher prices on purchases from businesses that accepted Mastercard.
In a statement after the new ruling, Merricks said: “I am very pleased with today’s decision.
“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.
“As a result we all had to pay higher prices in the shops than we should have done — while Mastercard have pocketed the profits.
‘PAY THE COMPENSATION’
“It’s now time for Mastercard to admit the damage they did, to apologise to the British public, and to agree to pay the compensation they owe.”
The claim was originally rejected by the tribunal in part because it couldn’t work out how to calculate individual losses caused by Mastercard’s fees.
But the court of appeal found that was not a legal basis for rejecting certification for a court action.
Merricks says the maximum payout would be around £300 for anyone who can prove that they were in the UK between 1992 and 2008.
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But Mastercard says it’s willing to fight the lawsuit all the way up to the Supreme Court.
A spokeswoman for the company 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.”
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