Here We Go Again: Mammoth MasterCard Case Is Back

03rd Jun 2019

In a blow to reasonable litigation policy, a UK appeals court revived the £14 billion class action lawsuit that alleges MasterCard has been illegally charging high fees. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of 46 million British consumers – nearly 70% of the UK’s population.

If this case sounds familiar, it should. In 2017, the recently-created Competition and Appeals Tribunal (CAT) rejected the case because the class was too large to be reasonably ascertained and the damages ask was too big to be accurately spread amongst the class. The case was one of the first tests of the UK’s new opt-out collective action mechanism, and the CAT was designed to ensure U.S.-style class action lawsuits would not plague the legal system. The UK Court of Appeal’s decision to revive the lawsuit is a blatant disregard of that safeguard.

Huge class action lawsuits have helped make the United States one of the most litigious nations in the world. In 2016, costs associated with the U.S. tort system were equivalent to 2.3 percent of the country’s GDP, and effectively cost $3,329 per American household. Allowing runaway litigation like this mammoth lawsuit against MasterCard to proliferate will set the UK on a course to match the U.S., where the only true winners will be the lawyers and the funders who back them.