Mastercard Time Barred Claims Dismissed by London Tribunal

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Mastercard Time Barred Claims

A London tribunal has dismissed a significant portion of claims from a £10 billion ($12.7 billion) class action against Mastercard, citing that the allegations were time-barred. The decision on Wednesday addresses claims that Mastercard concealed information about its interchange fees from consumers.

Mastercard Time Barred Claims : Tribunal’s Findings on Interchange Fees

The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) rejected consumer advocate Walter Merrick’s argument that Mastercard had deliberately hidden relevant facts from consumers through confidentiality agreements with its member banks. The tribunal concluded that claims for losses suffered before June 1997 were time-barred.

“There was no hiding the fact” that Mastercard set European multilateral interchange fees (MIFs) for cross-border transactions, said Judge Peter Roth, who led the panel of three. He emphasized that no other entity, apart from the international payment organizations, could set these international MIFs.

Scope of the Class Action

The class action represents approximately 46 million adults in the U.K., alleging that consumers paid higher prices in shops between 1992 and 2008 due to excessively high swipe fees charged by Mastercard. A liability hearing took place in July. The case stems from the European Commission’s 2007 finding that Mastercard infringed on EU competition law through its imposition of multilateral interchange fees on retailers.

Mastercard Time Barred Claims : Judge’s Rationale

Judge Roth concluded that Mastercard did not hide the actual levels of the charges or the methodology for setting them. “Given the information in the public domain regarding the broad range of interchange fees, we consider that there was no deliberate concealment of the fact that the European Economic Area MIFs were ‘appreciably above zero,’ in the relevant sense here of ‘appreciable,'” he stated.