24 Jul 2017

Freshfields success in landmark class action case sought against MasterCard

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has had a major success after the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) ruled against certifying a US-style £14bn opt-out consumer damages antitrust class actions against its client MasterCard.

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Mr Justice Roth, CAT President, ruled against allowing the collective proceedings application on the basis that claimants from potentially disparate groups of claimants could not actually form a single class action for the purposes of this claim. The former UK chief financial services ombudsman Walter Merricks had been seeking damages for 46 million UK consumers in relation to multilateral interchange fees (MIFs) charged to retailers which he argued had resulted in people being unfairly charged for alomost 18 years from 1992 to 2008.

First of a kind

This would have been the first collective damages action of its kind and was one of the first to be filed under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which was set up to allow US style opt-out group damages claims in the UK. Mr Merricks said: ‘The new collective action regime was introduced by the Consumer Rights Act to overcome the difficulty for consumers seeking to recover losses from competition law infringements. I am concerned that this new regime, designed to benefit consumers, may never get off the ground.’

Disappointing

He added: ‘It is disappointing that the Tribunal determined that even if I could identify accurately the loss suffered by all 46 million consumers, the fact that I could not precisely calculate the individualised loss for each of those 46 million consumers, means consumers should get nothing at all.’

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