A UK court has approved the UK’s biggest class action lawsuit of over £10bn against global payments processor Mastercard on behalf of 46m consumers, according to reports.
The previously rejected lawsuit was formally certified on Wednesday to go to trial by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) in London.
It will be the first mass claim launched under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which was established to compensate consumers and small businesses for anti-competitive behaviour.
The class action has been brought by former financial ombudsman Walter Merricks. He alleges that the payments processor overcharged customers with “interchange” fees, which retailers pay to credit card companies whenever a consumer pays with a card, over the course of 16 years since May 1992. Merricks claims that those fees were passed on to consumers in the form of raised prices by retailers.
“Mastercard has thrown everything at trying to prevent this claim going forward,” said Merricks in a statement according to Reuters, “but today its efforts have failed.”
“The tribunal’s ruling heralds the start of an era of consumer-focused class actions which will help to hold big business to account in areas that really matter.”
Mastercard, however, have said the the court’s decision has reduced the value of the “spurious” claim by over 35 per cent.
This is because Merricks did not include the estates of the deceased and compound interest in the claim which reduced the size of the claim from £15bn, which the claimants put it at originally, to £10bn.
The payments processor company said in a statement that it was confident that: “over the coming months a review of key facts will further significantly reduce the size and viability of the claim.”
“This claim isn’t being brought by UK consumers,” Mastercard added, “but is being driven by lawyers, backed by organisations primarily focused on making money for themselves.”
The move to authorise the case as a collective action sets a standard for a number of other delayed or stalled proposed class actions.