MasterCard is bracing itself for a £19 billion class-action filed for imposing allegedly illegal processing fees that were passed onto shoppers between 1992 and 2008.
Walter Merricks, a lawyer and former chief ombudsman at the Financial Ombudsman Service, is bringing the class action that alleges MasterCard charged excessive interchange fees when shoppers paid with their credit or debit cards over the 16-year period.
“The prices of everything we all bought from 1992 to 2008 were higher than they should have been as a result of the unlawful conduct of MasterCard,” Merricks said.
“My aim is to get the redress to which U.K. consumers are entitled and to ensure that MasterCard cannot hold on to the illegal profits,” he added.
The UK’s biggest ever claim
If the claim, the UK’s biggest, is successful, it would mean 40 million British consumers (under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, any consumer who has lost out automatically become part of the class action, unless they explicitly opt out) could stand to get hundreds of pounds.
The new lawsuit comes two years after the European Union courts ruled that MasterCard’s cross-border transaction fees were unfair.
Merricks is planning to file the claim in September with a trial being held around mid-2018, unless MasterCard decides to settle.
“We firmly disagree with the basis of this legal claim. Electronic payments deliver real value to people online, instore and everywhere. MasterCard is committed to providing ever more convenient, safe and secure payments to all our customers, including consumers, retailers, governments and banks.”
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