Insights

Public awareness of class actions is about to be boosted

December 19, 2022

Public awareness of class actions is about to be boosted

If you haven’t yet heard of consumer champion Walter Merricks’s epic £17bn class action against Mastercard, you soon will have.

This month the team behind the claim launched what they described as an ‘unprecedented’ £600k print and digital advertising campaign, targeting top national, regional and social media channels.

The campaign will inform consumers of their rights under the claim, which could potentially see 46 million people in line for a pay-out of up to £300 each.

The mammoth class action is the first mass consumer claim brought under the new collective action regime introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. It is based on a 2007 finding by the European Commission that Mastercard had imposed unlawful fees on transactions processed through its network.

But what do consumers think of these huge group actions that are being brought on their behalf? Research published by communications consultancy Portland this month provides some insights.

Portland’s Class Action Report 2022 found that there was a high level of willingness by UK consumers to sign up to class actions; and a strong appetite for competition claims among the general public – with good understanding of how a company’s actions affect the prices paid by consumers.

What does the UK public think about the role of litigation funders in these class actions? The report found that people in the UK do accept that litigation funding is a necessary part of the class action process; and more than half of those asked said they were comfortable with funders taking a percentage of any class action award, in exchange for paying legal costs. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they were willing to sign up to a claim with an unknown funder.

It is not all good news, however. Asked what they believed class actions achieved, 65% of UK respondents replied ‘to make money for litigation funders’.

The new competition regime under the Consumer Rights Act relies on the involvement of litigation funders, without which these large group actions simply cannot be brought. But while awareness of funding is certainly growing, it seems that the funding industry still has more work to do in convincing UK consumers of the benefits that it can bring.


December 19, 2022

Insights