Mastercard set to face $26 billion class-action lawsuit over fees

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) – Mastercard is set to face a £14 billion (S$26 billion) class action over its payment fees after a London tribunal gave the group bringing the suit the green light to proceed.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal ruled on Wednesday (Aug 18) in favour of Mr Walter Merricks, the former head of the British Financial Ombudsman Service, saying that he can represent some 46 million consumers. Still, the judges stopped short of allowing him to add deceased individuals to the lawsuit, which would have boosted the class size to almost 60 million people.

The ruling comes after Mastercard lost a bid to block the long-running case at Britain’s Supreme Court in December. The United States-based credit card provider has faced numerous legal challenges since European Union courts said its payment fees unfairly restricted competition.

The case stems from an EU ruling that the card fees that the company had charged for transactions were unfair and a breach of competition law.

“This claim isn’t being brought by UK consumers but is being driven by lawyers, backed by organisations primarily focused on making money for themselves,” Mastercard said in an e-mailed statement. “The decision today reduces the value of this spurious claim by more than 35 per cent.”

A representative for Mr Merricks did not reply to an e-mail seeking comment.

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