£14bn damages claim against MasterCard set for preliminary hearing
A £14 billion damages claim against MasterCard over charges that were passed on to shoppers is to proceed to a preliminary tribunal early next year.
The hearing set to begin on January 18 will determine if the case can proceed as a landmark UK collective action.
The claim - led by former financial services ombudsman Walter Merricks, who has instructed US-based law firm Quinn Emanuel - was filed in September at the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) in London under the new Consumer Rights Act 2015.
It claims MasterCard set unlawfully high interchange fees - charged to stores when shoppers swipe their debit or credit cards - for 16 years, which were passed on to consumers in the form of inflated prices for good and services.
In 2014 the European Court of Justice declared that such fees were a violation of EU antitrust rules.
On April 29 last year the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopted the Interchange Fee Regulation, and caps of 0.2% for debit cards and 0.3% for credit cards came into effect on December 9.
Mr Merricks has launched a website, MasterCardConsumerClaim.co.uk, giving consumers information about the case, such as upcoming dates, the full claim form and other key legal documents.
MasterCard has said it "firmly disagrees" with the basis of the claim.
All UK consumers who paid the charges and are currently living in the UK will automatically become part of the group of claimants unless they explicitly opt out.
Those no longer living in the UK but who were here between 1992 and 2008 will have the opportunity to opt in.
The firm said: "MasterC ard continues to disagree with the basis of the proposed collective action and we will strongly oppose this claim in the event the court decides to hear the case.
"Our payments network delivers choice to consumers and real value through the benefits of security, convenience and consumer protection, and we are committed to investing in our services in order to continue to meet the rapidly evolving needs of all our customers."