Class action lawsuits and the firms you could claim compensation from

Millions of consumers who have been ripped off by big companies could be in line for payouts thanks to a host of high profile collective lawsuits building in the UK.

Known as “class actions”, the lawsuits involve a group of people coming together to make the same legal claim. One person then takes the company court on behalf of those affected.

A number of collective lawsuits are making their way through the UK legal system right now which, if successful, could see millions of people receiving payouts of up to £3,000 if you happen to qualify for all of the affected firms.

Here, Telegraph Money explains how class actions work, how much you could get, and whether you’ll actually see any money.

What is a class action lawsuit?

While mass participant suits have long existed in the US, chasing compensation for victims who have lost out at the hands of major firms, it’s come to the UK fairly recently.

The change was heralded with the introduction Consumer Rights Act 2015, which enables collective actions to be brought on an opt-out basis for breaches of competition law.

Opt-out means all those affected by the alleged anti-competitive behaviour will automatically be included in the claim unless they actively state, in advance, that they don’t want to be.

Opt-in, on the other hand, involves a number of individuals bringing claims that are then heard together in court as a single group, called a Group Litigation Order.

Alan Davis, of law firm Pinsent Masons, said: “Opt-out class actions in competition cases have been on the rise since the landmark Merricks Supreme Court judgement in late 2020 [in which it was ruled that Mastercard had breached competition law by charging excessively high interchange fees]. 

“In 2021, the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) certified three opt-out mass actions involving payment card interchange fees, one involving landline telephone services, and two related claims involving train fares.”

Six further mass actions were certified in 2022, including one opt-in action, while one has been certified so far in 2023. More than a dozen other cases are currently before the CAT and the High Court hoping to be certified, while some certification decisions are being appealed.

So will I get my money back?

With a growing pipeline of upcoming cases chasing compensation for victims who have lost out at the hands of major firms, it can be tricky keeping on top of things.

Last month, a new free-to-use website called Consumer Voice, launched with the aim of making it easier for those affected to track the progress of current claims.

Alex Neill, co-founder of Consumer Voice, said: “Many people have little or no awareness of group claims as a route to compensation. We want to help people get back money they are owed from rule-breaking businesses. 

“People should be confident that when they join a claim, they are not being scammed – and that it won’t be a painful process.”

She added that while action by regulators to punish companies that break the law is important, it doesn’t result in money going back to people who have lost out and paid higher prices. 

“That’s why these group actions are so critical for consumers,” she said

However, you shouldn’t bank on getting the cash, as firms will usually do their utmost to contest the claims and fight back. 


Up to 46 million shoppers could potentially get a payout if a landmark £17bn case against Mastercard is successful. 

This hotly contested case – the biggest consumer claim in UK legal history – is being led by solicitor and former financial services ombudsman, Walter Merricks. 

He began his class action in 2016, arguing that consumers paid higher prices for goods due to the fees merchants were charged by Mastercard from 1992 to 2008.

Mr Merricks said: “Mastercard charged billions of pounds of unlawfully high fees for its sole benefit and to the detriment of consumers.”



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