The Court of Appeal ruled on Wednesday 4 July that the fixing of interchange fees by MasterCard was an infringement of competition law.
The judgment overturns the previous decision by the Commercial Court in January 2017, now finding in favour of the retailers. It is the largest competition appeal for many years, and has ramifications for other separate actions regarding interchange fees.
Kate Pollock, Co-Head of Competition Litigation commented:
“Our clients (ASDA, Argos and Morrisons) and we are delighted that the Court of Appeal has unequivocally recognised that the fixing of interchange fees by MasterCard and its network members over many years was and is an unlawful infringement of competition law, subject to the question of exemption which we expect to be determined by the Competition Appeal Tribunal in due course.
“Our clients have won against MasterCard on all the points of substance in their appeal and the Court of Appeal has decisively and comprehensively reversed the ruling of the Commercial Court judge below. Our clients now look forward to a swift and final resolution of this matter.”
Interchange fees are charged on all card purchases by card providers like MasterCard, and are a cost borne by retailers. The Competition Appeal Tribunal will now consider whether there is a level of the interchange fee that would be lawful.