MasterCard may end up paying £19bn in a lawsuit that alleges that the global payments company charged illegal card fees that were ultimately borne by UK consumers.
The claim, which is expected to be filed soon under the Consumer Rights Act introduced in 2015, is led by former financial services ombudsman Walter Merricks.
Merricks said: "The prices of everything we all bought from 1992 to 2008 were higher than they should have been as a result of the unlawful conduct of MasterCard.
"To be clear, there is no question that MasterCard acted illegally in the way it conducted its business, a business that affects all of us. All of us overpaid to the tune of up to £19bn ($24.5bn) during a period lasting 16 years."
Merricks has hired Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP to draft a lawsuit that could claim hundreds of pounds in damages for every single UK consumer.
Two years ago, a European court ruled that MasterCard had infringed EU law by imposing charges on the use of its debit and credit cards.
The company had the option to concede that its card fees were higher but instead collected unlawfully charges for nearly 16 years and engaged in a legal battle for nearly 10 years.
Merricks added: "My aim is to get the redress to which UK consumers are entitled and to ensure that MasterCard cannot hold on to the illegal profits it made. This case should send a signal to companies that break competition laws at the expense of UK consumers that they do so at their financial peril."
The latest lawsuit is only to prove that the damage consumers suffered as a result of MasterCard's anticompetitive behaviour.
Quinn Emanuel lead partner Boris Bronfentrinker said: "This is precisely the type of claim for which the new collective action regime was established. This is a landmark case where unlawful anticompetitive conduct has harmed UK consumers."
Image:MasterCard to face £19bn lawsuit over illegal card fees. Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net