Mastercard £14bn ‘overcharge’ legal action fails

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A £14bn class action lawsuit against MasterCard has been thrown out by the Competition Appeals Tribunal.

The former financial ombudsman, Walter Merricks, had claimed that 46 million consumers had been overcharged by MasterCard over a 16-year period.

But the court ruled that the case could not proceed through a collective – or class – action.

The ruling was welcomed by Mastercard, which said the claims were completely unsuitable.

The tribunal found that even if a loss had been suffered, and could be estimated across the whole class, there was no way any individual could receive compensation equal to the loss that he or she had actually suffered.

The case was filed in September 2016, and followed a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling against the level of so-called interchange fees – the amounts that retailers have to pay on debit and credit cards.

It related to the fees charged by MasterCard between 1992 and 2008.

“We welcome the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s judgment refusing certification for the proposed collective action,” said a spokesperson for Mastercard.

“As set out in MasterCard’s arguments to date, we believe that the claims were completely unsuitable to be brought under the collective actions regime.”

Interchange fees have since been capped by the European Union.


Carmakers call for transitional EU deal

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The government must secure a transitional Brexit deal to protect the future of the UK car industry, a trade group has said.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said Britain was highly unlikely to reach a final agreement with the EU by the March 2019 deadline.

That meant carmakers could face a “cliff edge”, whereby tariff-free trade was sharply pulled away.

It warned the industry would suffer without a back-up plan in place.

The EU is by far the UK’s biggest automotive export market, buying more than half of its finished vehicles – four times as many as the next biggest market.

UK car plants also depend heavily on the free movement of components to and from the continent.

The SMMT said any new relationship with the EU would need to address tariff and non-tariff barriers, regulatory and labour issues, “all of which will take time to negotiate”.

“We accept that we are leaving the European Union,” said chief executive Mike Hawes.

“But our biggest fear is that, in two years’ time, we fall off a cliff edge – no deal, outside the single market and customs union and trading on inferior World Trade Organization terms.

“This would undermine our competitiveness and our ability to attract the investment that is critical to future growth.”

He called on the government to seek an interim arrangement, whereby the UK stayed in the single market and customs union until a new relationship was brokered.

UK car manufacturing generated £77.5bn of turnover last year and accounted for 12% of all goods exports, according to the trade group.

It added that almost a million people were employed across the wider automotive industry.


Brexit negotiations begin: David Davis targets ‘historic’ deal

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Brexit Secretary David Davis will call for “a deal like no other in history” as he heads into talks with the EU.

Subjects for the negotiations, which officially start in Brussels later, include the status of expats, the UK’s “divorce bill” and the Northern Ireland border.

Mr Davis said there was a “long road ahead” but predicted a “deep and special partnership”.

The UK is set to leave the EU by the end of March 2019.

Day one of the negotiations will start at about 11:00 BST at European Commission buildings in Brussels.

Mr Davis and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier, a former French foreign minister and EU commissioner, will give a joint press conference at the end of the day.

The UK minister, who will be accompanied by a team of British officials, is expected to say: “Today marks the start of negotiations that will shape the future of the European Union and the United Kingdom, and the lives of our citizens.

“We want both sides to emerge strong and prosperous, capable of projecting our shared European values, leading in the world, and demonstrating our resolve to protect the security of our citizens.

“I want to reiterate at the outset of these talks that the UK will remain a committed partner and ally of our friends across the continent.

“And while there is a long road ahead, our destination is clear – a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU. A deal like no other in history.”

The BBC has been told by European Union sources that the talks will follow the EU’s preferred pattern of exit negotiations first, with the future relations between the two sides – including the free trade deal the UK is seeking – at a later date.

Five major UK business bodies have come together to call for continued access to the European single market until a final Brexit deal is made with the EU.

In a letter to Business Secretary Greg Clark, they urged the government to “put the economy first”.

The letter is from the British Chambers of Commerce, Confederation of British Industry, EEF, Federation of Small Businesses and Institute of Directors.

On the eve of talks, Chancellor Philip Hammond issued a strong warning about the implications of the UK leaving the EU without a deal in place.

Mr Hammond told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that having no deal would be “a very, very bad outcome for Britain” but added that one that aimed to “suck the lifeblood out of our economy over a period of time” would be even worse.

He called for a transition deal to be in place to avoid businesses being affected by a “cliff edge” scenario as the UK leaves.

Mr Hammond has said the UK should “prioritise protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity”.

 


O2 to scrap Europe roaming fees

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From 15 June, O2’s Pay Monthly and Business customers will be able to use their UK plans abroad – in 47 European countries – at no extra cost.

The move echoes the scrapping of roaming charges in similar destinations by EE, Three and Vodafone.

It coincides with the incoming abolition of such fees by the European Union on 15 June.

O2 customers will be able to take their UK plan into some non-EU countries as well.

These include Iceland, Switzerland and Monaco.

When travelling in the Europe Zone outside the UK, O2 customers with the right plans will be able to make calls and send texts to any other country in the zone at no additional cost.

Receiving calls and texts – and using data plans – is also included.

The mobile operator added that customers would not need to take any action to enjoy the benefits of the change.

While the move would certainly benefit some customers, it did not go much beyond what the operator would have to do under the new EU rules, said Kester Mann, a telecoms analyst at CCS Insight.

Brexit time bomb?

Mr Mann added that UK operators might find it difficult to reintroduce roaming fees once the UK left the EU in two years’ time.

“I think it would go down very, very badly with customers – it would be a very bold and perhaps foolhardy option,” he told the BBC.

“It would be very difficult for them to do that just because the UK is such a competitive market and we’ve moved such a long way from roaming.”

Of course, mobile operators had taken a “financial hit” from not being able to charge roaming fees as they had in the past, Mr Mann said.

Instead, they were increasingly trying to recoup that revenue through other means, he added.

For example, some had created higher end packages offering roaming at no extra cost in even more destinations abroad.


Is Wigan experiencing cold feet over Brexit?

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Wigan delivered a huge majority for the Leave campaign last year but uncertainty over the terms of Brexit may have caused cold feet, latest figures suggest.

Conducted via Wigan Today, results of our new poll reveal 75 per cent would now vote to remain in the European Union.Article 50, the legal mechanism to leave the EU, is expected to be triggered later today meaning formal negotiations can take place. And although our results may not represent a complete turning of the tide in terms of support for Brexit, they may show a wave of optimism has been replaced with a sober reality of an uncertain future.

The Wigan Today poll received 2,759 votes with 75 per cent opting for remain with the question; Brexit: How would you vote now?

Last year’s EU referendum results for Wigan borough were Leave (63.9 per cent) Remain (36.1) with a turnout of 163,273 (69.2 per cent).

Labour MPs Yvonne Fovargue (Makerfield) and Lisa Nandy (Wigan) – who backed the Remain campaign – have said the pressure is firmly on for ministers to deliver the best severance package they can. Ms Fovargue told the Wigan Post: “The Government will need to prepare and ensure that debate and scrutiny of the negotiations with the EU is brought before Parliament.

“Whichever way people voted in the referendum last year, it is a clear that many are beginning to think carefully about the very serious negotiations that will begin following the triggering of Article 50. “The Prime Minister’s mantra that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ is a vacuous statement. Her Government will soon face the reality of a negotiation with the EU. “The stakes are high and the public will not accept a deal which threatens jobs, prosperity and hard won rights.” Leader of the Conservative opposition on Wigan Council, Coun Michael Winstanley, said he was “very wary of opinion polls” and the results do not represent a change in opinion.

As a supporter of the Leave campaign, he remained steadfast in his view the reality of Brexit will mean prosperity for Britain. He said: “I certainly haven’t changed my mind and the way that the EU has behaved since then with their bullying language and tactics has vindicated my vote. “I am very wary about opinion polls in general but even more so regarding online polls where no data validation is completed nor sampling is undertaken. “I suspect that many of the people who voted in this poll voted to stay anyway. “I would take the results of this not with a pinch of salt but a whole vat of it. I have spoken to many people about the referendum results and I haven’t found anyone who now says that they wish they had voted differently. In fact I have even spoken to people who wish they had voted to leave.

“I think people now want to get on with starting the process. It’s a pity that many of those who voted to remain have tried everything to derail the process and that is simply unacceptable. These people have got to respect the wishes of the British people. “I am pleased that now all the legal challenges are out of the way the Prime Minister is delivering on her pledge to trigger article 50 before the end of March and we can now start the negotiations. Brexit is now underway and the sooner it happens the better and once again we will be free from the yoke of the European Union.” Wigan’s branch chairman for the UK Independence Party, Nathan Ryding, said: “I respect those views held by those who took part in the opinion poll, however, the poll does not represent Wigan as a whole, only those who saw it. UKIP are rising in the polls in the Constituency of Wigan, that is because of our policies and the action work we do. “To me, that is a clear representation that the people of Wigan are losing faith in the Labour Council and are looking for a solution, UKIP is that solution. “I am pleased Article 50 will be triggered today, however, it should have happened on June 24th 2016. Now, we just have to see how the negotiations go, but Leave voters, and I include Wigan in this, will not stand by if we give in to the “divorce bill”, give up our fisheries, continue to pay into the EU, give them any power over us or continue the free movement of people. We need the ‘Hard Brexit’ that we voted for.”


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