The case relates to fees that have been imposed on businesses by MasterCard between 1992 and 2008, the charges also known as “interchange fees” are alleged to have been set at an unlawfully high level and prices were even raised for British consumers.
The UK’s former chief financial services ombudsman Walter Merricks has brought the claim on behalf of the 46m consumers he asserts that have lost out. However, the claim follows a ten year legal battle revolving around MasterCard’s fees for cross-border transactions to which the European Court of Justice concluded that the fees were too high.
Walter Merricks has stated that “The filing of this claim is the first step towards consumers obtaining compensation for what MasterCard did.” He went on to explain that as the fees have been ruled as unlawful in the European Court of Justice, the present claim may need only to prove that consumers have suffered a loss as a result of the fees.
Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 consumers that have lost out will automatically be eligible for compensation unless they have expressly opted out.
The trial is estimated to commence in 2018 unless MasterCard is prepared to make consumers a fair settlement offer. However, MasterCard has stated that “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.”