The £14bn consumer claim against MasterCard will proceed to a hearing in January 2017, when the Competition Appeal Tribunal is set to decide if the case can proceed as a collective action.
The case revolves around MasterCard having charged excessive interchange fees, the fees a retailer pays to the credit card company when consumers use a card to shop, between 1992 and 2008.
Walter Merricks CBE, the former financial services ombudsman, is bringing the claim against MasterCard on behalf of UK consumers.
As a key part of the process, the new website, mastercardconsumerclaim.co.uk, has been launched ahead of the key hearing on 18 January 2017.
What is the MasterCard case about?
MasterCard has already been found by the European Commission to have charged unlawfully high cross-border interchange fees between 1992 and 2008.
Mr Merricks claims that the fees were passed on by retailers in the form of increased retail prices charged to consumers.
Therefore, all UK consumers, not just MasterCard holders, who made purchases in the relevant period, could be eligible for compensation if the claim is successful.
What can consumers do?
Under the rules laid down in the Consumer Rights Act, all UK consumers who may be found to have lost out as a result of MasterCard’s actions and who are currently living in the UK will automatically become part of the group of claimants, unless they actively take steps to opt out.
This means that, if the tribunal allows the claim to proceed as an opt-out collective action, UK consumers will not need to do anything as they will automatically be eligible to receive compensation if the case is decided in Mr Merrick’s favour.
Those not currently living in the UK but who were during the1992-2008 period will have the opportunity to opt in.
Any person with an interest in this matter, including a member of the proposed class of claimants, can object to the case by writing to the tribunal stating their reasons for objecting by 4pm on 22 December 2016. They can also object to the proposed authorisation of Mr Merricks as the class representative.
Interested parties can also seek permission to make oral observations at the upcoming hearing on 18 January 2017 by making an application, with reasons, as part of their written objections.
Any third party with a legitimate interest (who is not a member of the proposed class) can also apply to the tribunal for permission to make written and/or oral submissions at the upcoming hearing.
Any such application must be made in writing, supported by reasons, to be received by the tribunal by 4pm on 12 December 2016.
Further details on how to opt in or out are available on the MasterCard consumer claim website.
• Find out what protection you have under the Consumer Rights Act
• Know your rights if you have a financial complaint
• Do you know what to do if you’ve been mis-sold a financial product?