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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Friday 25 November 2016


Don't open the champers yet but you could (no promises) ultimately be entitled to some money by barely straining yourself. It's all because of what is known as a collective claim against MasterCard for around a cool £14 billion. You have never used a MasterCard? You have never spoken to MasterCard? You have never heard of MasterCard? Worry not.

Between 1992 and 2008 millions (or trillions) of customers paid for goods and services by using a MasterCard credit or debit card. It turns out that each time the business accepted the card, it paid a fee to MasterCard which was unlawful. This has been decided by the European Commission. More than half a million businesses in the UK including major supermarkets who paid these fees passed them on to you by charging higher prices. So you, it is said, have lost out whether or not you personally used a MasterCard, by being charged more than would have otherwise been the case.

Walter Merricks who is a lawyer and former Financial Ombudsman doesn't reckon that is fair and so has brought a claim against MasterCard on behalf of anyone who has lost out because of those unlawful fees. The claim has been made to the Competition Appeal Tribunal under the 2015 Consumer Rights Act.  If the claim was successful you could be in for some sort of pay out - goodness knows how much or how it would be calculated - provided that you paid for goods and services from a business that accepted MasterCard - though you didn't necessarily pay through MasterCard - between 22 May 1992 and 21 June 2008. But you would have had to have been a UK resident for the previous three months non-stop, been at least 16 and paid that higher price.

The Tribunal to which the claim has been made has to decide whether to allow the claim to continue. It will do this at a hearing set of 18 January 2017. If you wanted a day out and had nothing better to do, you could ask for permission to make representations at that hearing, especially if you are someone who could benefit from the claim being allowed. You must do that by 22 December 2016. But, seriously, you would have to have really good reasons for seeking that permission. They won't want a few thousand individuals chipping in.

There's nothing you need to do at the moment except watch this space and pray. But if you want more info, go to www.mastercardconsumerclaim.co.uk