Mastercard is at the center of a class action lawsuit topping £10 billion ($14 billion), the largest of its kind in the U.K., Reuters and other news outlets reported on Thursday (Aug. 19). If successful, 46 million people would be entitled to about £300 pounds each.
The Competition Appeal Tribunal decided that the former head of the U.K. Financial Ombudsman Service Walter Merricks can represent the claimants, which is the first British judicial certification of a mass consumer class action claim.
The UK Supreme Court overruled objections to the lawsuit in December, which was launched five years ago. The ruling to allow the collective action will set a new precedence for other class action suits on deck.
“Mastercard has thrown everything at trying to prevent this claim going forward, but today its efforts have failed,” Merricks said in a statement, per Reuters.
“The tribunal’s ruling heralds the start of an era of consumer-focused class actions which will help to hold big business to account in areas that really matter.”
The suit centers on allegations by Merricks that Mastercard charged interchange fees that were exorbitant during the time period from May 1992 through June 2008. He also claims those fees were then passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.
The court didn’t allow the suit to add deceased individuals to the lawsuit or compound interest over time, which would have increased the amount of the damages and the number of claimants.
Mastercard called the claim “spurious” and one that was advanced by attorneys and agencies “primarily focused on making money for themselves,” Reuters reported. “Mastercard is confident that over the coming months a review of key facts will further significantly reduce the size and viability of the claim.”