The claim, to be filed under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, comes nearly two years after the European Union ruled that so-called interchange fees on its debit and credit cards were unfair. Interchange fees are fees paid by a retailer's bank to a card issuer's bank, which are ultimately passed onto the consumers through the retailers. The initial charges are determined by credit card companies such as MasterCard, not the retailers. The class action claims that MasterCard set high fees with the knowledge it was overcharging consumers.
Walter Merricks, who previously led the Financial Ombudsman Service, has instructed Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan to file a collective damages claims against Bank of America's (BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report credit card unit, according to a release by the Los Angeles-based law firm. The claim of £19 billion will equate to "hundreds of pounds in damages for every single UK consumer," the law firm 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," Merricks said. "There is no question that MasterCard acted illegally in the way it conducted its business."
MasterCard said that it "firmly disagrees with the claims," saying that the EU's ruling two years ago were related to cross-border transactions within the region and did not touch on domestic U.K. interchange fees.
"Attempting to equate the those two is like comparing apples to oranges," it said.
MasterCard closed at $88.24 on Tuesday.