Who? Boris Bronfentrinker, partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan in London and Brussels.
Why is he in the news? Representing UK consumers in an opt-out collective action claim for damages that will be filed in the Competition Appeal Tribunal. The claim of up to £19bn seeks to recover losses incurred as a result of anti-competitive and unlawful interchange fees that were imposed by MasterCard on transactions that occurred in the period 1992 to 2008.
A statement from MasterCard said: ‘Currently no lawsuit has been filed, but we firmly disagree with the proposed arguments levelled against us. It is unfortunate to see the US class action system being replicated in the UK – all too often the only winners are lawyers.’
Thoughts on the case: ‘For a long time consumers have suffered from anti-competitive conduct but the absence of a collective action regime has meant that small individual claims have not been economical to bring. This is a landmark in that it is one of the first opt-out collective action claims brought after the law was amended on 1 October 2015 to allow for collective competition damages claims.
‘It is also one of the largest damages actions ever brought before the English courts. It will establish new law on how consumer claims can be brought where companies have engaged in anti-competitive conduct and should finally open the door on consumer redress in the UK.’
Dealing with the media: ‘Engaging with the media is very important as they provide a way for us to communicate with the class. There has been fantastic interest in the case, given that it is a first of its kind, concerns consumers and involves a very large amount of money.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I originally wanted to be a doctor, but then realised I got squeamish at the sight of blood. I was then left to think what did I like to do and what was I good at: talking and debating (or arguing, as my parents would say). So the law was a natural career to follow, and unsurprisingly given my interests, litigation. I must confess that I was also influenced by TV shows like LA Law that made it seem very glamorous.’
Career high: ‘Being instructed by Walter Merricks CBE to bring this collective action against MasterCard. It is rare to get an opportunity to truly forge new law and a great honour to be bringing a claim on behalf of so many individuals and returning a meaningful amount of money to them.’