UK Supreme Court Rules Mastercard, Visa Violated Anti-Competition Laws

Two of the world’s largest credit card companies have lost their bid to assess fees on retailers in the United Kingdom.

Britain’s Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc., affirming a lower court ruling that the mandated payments restricted competition, the court announced on Wednesday (June 17).

In its 83-page ruling, the justices ruled in favor of London-based Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd., one of the nation’s largest grocery store chains with 1,415 stores.

The case dates back to 2016, when Sainsbury and other retailers filed suit against Visa and Mastercard alleging that they charged excessive credit and debit card fees in violation of the country’s  anti-competitive rules.

At issue is the use of so-called interchange fees charged by banks at rates set by the card companies each time a shopper used a credit card.

“This marks the first substantial award in a competition damages claim in the UK, and we believe in Europe,” Sarah Houghton, a lawyer at Mishcon de Reya advising the supermarket chain, told Bloomberg News. “It has an importance well beyond the precedent it sets for claims against the Mastercard and Visa schemes.”

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