Visa, Mastercard Fight to Dismiss Retailers’ Swipe Fees Lawsuit

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Visa, Mastercard Fight to Dismiss Retailers' Swipe Fees Lawsuit

In a battle against proposed class actions, Visa and Mastercard have appealed to an appeals court, arguing that the Competition Appeal Tribunal should have dismissed accusations of unfairly imposing interchange rules on retailers.

Challenging the Tribunal’s Decision

Representatives for the payment giants argued that the tribunal’s decision to grant merchants time to revise their claims, despite finding defects, was erroneous. Matthew Cook KC of One Essex Court, representing Mastercard, emphasized that the tribunal’s criteria for collective proceedings were misapplied.

Visa, Mastercard Bid To Ax Retailers’ Swipe Fees Class Action: The Legal Maneuver

Visa and Mastercard are now seeking permission to appeal the tribunal’s ruling in June, which allowed merchants to amend their claims instead of outright dismissing them. The proposed claims, filed by Commercial and Interregional Card Claims, aimed to combine damages caused to retailers into opt-out and opt-in class actions.

Visa, Mastercard Bid To Ax Retailers’ Swipe Fees Class Action: Disadvantages of Certification

Cook highlighted concerns about how certifying the claims could disadvantage the opt-out class, stressing the loss of individual rights and opportunities. Brian Kennelly KC of Blackstone Chambers, representing Visa, criticized the tribunal’s oversight of crucial factors and its failure to consider the practicality of individual claims.

Visa, Mastercard Bid To Ax Retailers’ Swipe Fees Class Action: The Merchant’s Perspective

David Caplan of One Essex Court, representing the merchants, accused the card issuers of fragmenting the case to their advantage. He argued that the tribunal’s decision to allow reformulation of the application rather than an outright dismissal was fair and appropriate.

Potential Ramifications

If the class actions proceed, they will target reimbursement for “unlawful” interchange fees charged by Visa and Mastercard since 2016. These fees, known as Multilateral Interchange Fees (MIFs), form a significant portion of monthly bank charges for businesses across the European Economic Area.

Legal Representation

Visa is represented by Brian Kennelly KC, Isabel Buchanan of Blackstone Chambers, and Daniel Piccinin KC of Brick Court Chambers, while Mastercard is represented by Sonia Tolaney KC, Matthew Cook KC, and Veena Srirangam of One Essex Court, among others. The merchants are represented by David Caplan of One Essex Court, Ligia Osepciu of Monckton Chambers, and James White of Henderson Chambers.

Conclusion

The outcome of this legal battle could have far-reaching implications for the retail industry and the payment processing landscape. Justices Julian Flaux and Nicholas Green presided over the hearing, which marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing dispute between retailers and credit card companies.