Supreme Court case could see 46 million consumers get hundreds of pounds each in compensation

An appeal against allowing the largest group action in UK history to go ahead is set to be heard by the Supreme Court tomorrow (13 May).

Mastercard is appealing former financial services ombudsman Walter Merricks’ application to lodge a £14 billion group action against it after claims it broke competition law. The Court of Appeal last year overturned the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s decision not to allow the group action to proceed, but an appeal of that decision is to be heard by the Supreme Court.

If successful, the claim could ultimately see 46 million consumers compensated hundreds of pounds each.

Commenting on the case, Kennedys partner Samantha Silver said: “This is a landmark case that will test the standards required to obtain a Collective Proceedings Order and which will have far reaching consequences. Although the figures in this individual case are eye watering, its significance is more about the tone the decision will set for any future potential collective redress litigation. Will it encourage or discourage group litigation from proceeding in England and Wales?

“If Mastercard wins, business and its insurers are likely to breathe a collective sigh of relief. However, if Mastercard loses, it potentially opens the floodgates to further group actions, not just in the field of competition law, but more generally. Claimant groups and litigation funders across the country are then likely to start amassing arms to exploit the change in direction.”

The case centres around the claim that Mastercard broke competition law for 15 years between 1992 and 2007 by charging excessive ‘interchange fees’ – the fees a retailer pays to a credit or debit card company when a consumer uses their card, which were then passed on to the consumer.

The claim has been brought on behalf of all UK shoppers – unless they opted out – and will affect anyone who was living in the UK of working age between 1992 and 2008, even if they did not have a Mastercard.