Retailers lose fight against MasterCard charges

1 February 2017
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A group of retailers, including Argos, Asda and Next, have lost a major court case over the fees they were charged for processing card payments.

MasterCard charges businesses ‘interchange’ fees when consumers make purchases using their card in shops and online.

The group of UK retailers said around £437 million had been paid in fees since 2006 and claimed these MasterCard charges had been anti-competitive.

 

However Mr Justice Popplewell found against the retailers and said MasterCard's historic rates were necessary for it to function, and were not a restriction of competition.

The judgement was reached in the Commercial Court of the High Court this week.

B&Q, Debenhams, House of Fraser, Iceland, Morrisons, New Look, and the Arcadia Group - which owns brands including Topshop and Dorothy Perkins – were the other companies pursuing the case.

This ruling could have implications for a separate claim being brought by Walter Merricks  which argues that these interchange fees have increased costs for the end consumer as retailers have indirectly passed the charges on to shoppers. It is currently being decided whether that case can proceed to a full trial.

Following the judgement, Stewarts Law, acting on behalf of the retailers, described the ruling as “surprising” and said it would review the findings before deciding on an appeal.

A statement issued by MasterCard says: “MasterCard views this decision as a confirmation of the legitimacy and importance of interchange in our payment system and a recognition that its value based interchange rates were lawful and compliant with competition law.”

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