A £14bn class action against Mastercard has been revived after the Court of Appeal reversed an earlier decision to have the claim dismissed.
Three judges found that the case, led by the former financial ombudsman Walter Merricks, could be reheard for certification in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), which ruled in 2017 that the claim was not suitable to be heard on a collective basis.
Merricks, who is leading the action on behalf of 46m consumers, said: "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. 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 case against Mastercard was first brought in 2016, following the passing of the Consumer Rights Act a year earlier. Merrick's claim – the first mass consumer claim brought under the collective action regime in the new law – alleges that the fees infringed EU competition rules and were paid by businesses and then passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.
Today's decision means the case will be taken back to the CAT which will reconsider the merits of the case and whether it can proceed to trial.
Mastercard said it would appeal the decision directly to the highest court, the Supreme Court.
A Mastercard spokesperson 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 re-hearing 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.”