On 17 June 2020, the Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited judgment on whether ‘multilateral interchange fees’ are lawful. As a dispute resolution law firm in London, our team summarises the case and shares thoughts on its potential impact on businesses.
Interchange fees are paid by a retailer’s card acceptance provider (or acquirer) to the card issuer for every card payment transaction They make up the majority of fees paid to Visa and MasterCard by retailers.
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision that as the interchange fees were non-negotiable, with no incentive for Visa and MasterCard to compete over them, the fees were anti-competitive.
However, the quantum of damages to be awarded to the retailers still has to be assessed and will depend on whether and to what extent the retailers passed on interchange fees to customers. The eventual damages that claimants receive may therefore be reduced if they are found to have passed on the interchange fee.
Nonetheless the Supreme Court’s ruling is undoubtedly a good result for retailers and should lead to settlement payments in the near future. At a time when retailers are suffering heavily from the impacts of COVID-19, this could be a silver lining amidst all the gloom.