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UK's Supreme Court rules against Mastercard, Visa in retailers' fees battle


Britain’s highest court upheld an earlier Court of Appeal ruling that credit card companies Visa (V.N) and Mastercard (MA.N) restricted competition in the way they set fees for retailers, opening the way for them to seek compensation.

The case, which dates back to 1992, was brought by retailers Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L), Morrisons (MRW.L) Asda (WMT.N) and Argos and relates to the charges Visa (V.N) and Mastercard (MA.N) levy on the retailers when cardholders make a transaction – so called default multilateral interchange fees (MIFs).

The UK Supreme Court upheld the finding of the Court of Appeal in July 2018 that the MIFs charged within the Visa and MasterCard payment card schemes was an unlawful restriction of both European Union and UK competition law.

The ruling means the retailers can proceed to a trial to decide compensation.

Morgan Lewis partner Frances Murphy, the lead counsel for Sainsbury’s, said retailers could potentially receive billions of pounds in damages.