The Court of Appeal has dismissed all three cross-party appeals dealing with preliminary issues in the landmark Walter Merricks CBE v Mastercard Incorporated & Ors group action.

The appeals before Sir Julian Flaux, Lord Justice Green and Lord Justice Snowdon argued whether the Limitation Act 1980 and the Prescription and Limitation (Scotland) Act 1973 have been superseded by the Competition Act 1998 and the CAT rules; which law governs the claims in relation to transactions with foreign merchants; and where Mastercard is entitled to advance a a counterfactual ‘based on an alternative EEA multilateral interchange fees pursuant to Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union'.

The wider claim is brought by Walter Merricks, as class representative, on behalf of around 45 million UK residents who between 1992 and 2008 and bought goods and services with Mastercard. It is alleged that shoppers paid too much for goods as a result of inflated interchange fees imposed by Mastercard.

In lead judgment, with which Lord Justice Green and Lord Justice Snowdon agreed, Sir Julian Flaux said he would ‘be minded to give Mastercard permission to appeal’ in relation to the applicable law issue ‘given that this issue rises for the first time in the context of collective proceedings and is of some importance financially’.

However he said the ‘court should take account of the fact that restriction of competition has been definitively decided by the [European] Commission’.

Referring to the limitation issue, which the CoA found was not arguable, the judge found the CAT was correct in dismissing Merricks’ arguments.

He added: ‘Whilst it is true that the limitation provisions in both CA 1998 and the CAT Rules are confused and confusing…it is inherently unlikely that parliament ever intended that claims which had become time barred by 20 June 2003 should somehow be revived and become no longer time barred 12 years later, when the 2015 rules came into force. A conclusion to that effect would be highly surprising and illogical.’


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