Mastercard Litigation Could Provide Example for Future U.K. Class Actions
One of the U.K.’s first-ever class action lawsuits is targeting Mastercard, providing a potential preview of future class actions in the country. The case stems from a 2007 finding by the European Union (EU) Commission that the network’s interchange fees were too high, in breach of EU rules. Mastercard appealed that decision, but in September 2014, the European Court of Justice upheld the ruling. Now, a class action suit is proceeding on behalf of a proposed 46 million U.K. consumers who collectively suffered losses of £14 billion (US$18.2 billion) as a result of the interchange fees passed on by merchants to their customers.
Although class action lawsuits long have been common in the U.S., the U.K. only instituted the practice in October 2015, with the passage of the Consumer Rights Act (CRA), which allows for class actions to be brought in the Competition Appeals Tribunal. Previously, the country offered only “opt-in” group litigation orders, which helped coordinate litigation were many claimants were pursuing similar claims. Under the CRA, any U.K. resident within the defined class is automatically included in the action unless they opt out. As one of the first high-profile cases brought under the new rules, the Mastercard case could offer a preview of potential future class actions in the U.K. financial services and payments space, according to observers.