Business

Supreme Court rules against Mastercard and Visa in interchange fees battle

Visa and Mastercard could be set to pay billions in compensation to some of the UK’s top retailers following a court ruling which found that the two payment companies had breached competition laws.

The Supreme Court today (17 June) unanimously upheld the conclusion of the Court of Appeal that the multi-lateral interchange fees (MIFs) – that are paid by retailers for the processing of card transactions – restricted competition.

According to a report by the Financial Times, three separate appeal cases were rejected by The Supreme Court.

Retailers involved in the action for compensation include Asda, Argos, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. Reports claim that the exact value of the payout will be determined in future court rulings.

Supreme Court justice, Lord Hamblen, said: “In the Supreme Court’s judgment, the Court of Appeal was wrong to allow Mastercard to reopen this issue, which it had lost after a full and fair trial. It offends against the strong principle of public policy and justice that there should be finality in litigation.”

Kate Pollock, head of competition litigation at law firm Stewarts, which represented Asda, Argos and Morrison’s, told the FT: “The Supreme Court’s definitive finding on liability means that our clients’ claims can now proceed to trial on the issue of the quantum of damages. They look forward to a swift resolution of the matter without further delay.”

The appeal cases date back as far as 1992, and although today’s judgment moves the possibility of compensation into view for the affected retailers, Mastercard pointed out in a statement that the decision is not final.

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