One of the biggest competition compensation claims in UK history will be launched imminently against Visa and Mastercard which could see both large corporate business and small self-employed set-ups claim back on debit and credit card fees.
The claim – on behalf of UK businesses across the economy seeking damages for allegedly unlawful and excessive debit and credit card fees – will be filed at the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), the UK’s specialist judicial body for hearing competition cases.
Harcus Parker, a UK-based commercial litigation law firm specialising in group litigation, competition litigation and class action lawsuits, is bringing the claim against Mastercard and Visa. The new claim complements the claims Harcus Parker filed in the CAT last year against Mastercard and Visa for corporate and inter-regional card fees.
The new class action is potentially worth £many billions and would be one of the biggest competition compensation claims in UK history, showing how much card fees affect UK businesses across the economy.
The new claim will argue that any UK business which accepted payment by Mastercard or Visa branded debit or credit cards should be compensated for alleged overcharged fees caused by the card giants.
These fees – known as Multilateral Interchange Fees (MIFs) – are paid by businesses to their banks to accept payment by debit or credit card and are estimated to comprise up to 90% of a typical business’ monthly bank charge. However, these MIFs are set by Mastercard and Visa themselves rather than by market competition and are imposed on the banks as a condition of participation in the Mastercard and Visa card schemes. Harcus Parker’s class action seeks compensation for businesses for MIFs charged by Mastercard and Visa on debit or credit cards.
Jeremy Robinson, competition litigation partner at Harcus Parker, said: “We want to ensure businesses across the UK economy are properly compensated. In this case, the proposed class representative will make a stand against unlawful interchange fees, to complement the existing action against commercial card and foreign card transaction fees. We consider all MIFs are a tax on business and should be abolished. Both the UK Supreme Court and the Court of Justice of the EU have condemned this practice for consumer credit and debit cards and all eligible UK businesses stand to benefit.”
This class action will be open to all UK businesses – big and small – who accept Mastercard and Visa consumer debit or credit cards. Many of these businesses have been particularly hard hit by Brexit, Covid-19, and the current economic climate.
The claim period is from 2017 to the date of judgment award, or settlement, and will include interest.
UK businesses are invited to register their interest online at www.creditdebitcardclaim.co.uk. Businesses with an average annual pre-Covid turnover of £100 million or more will be invited to opt-in to the claim. Businesses whose turnover is less than £100 million, who have registered online, will be automatically included unless they choose to opt out.
Mastercard and Visa have both previously settled several claims for overcharged interchange fees. Businesses may still be eligible to join the claim even if they have previously settled claims with Mastercard and Visa. Potential claimants should contact Harcus Parker.
The case is financed by a third-party litigation funder, Bench Walk Advisers, and is fully insured. There is no cost to businesses taking part and no cost if the case is unsuccessful.
This new claim complements claims filed at the Competition Appeal Tribunal in June 2022 by proposed class representative Commercial and Interregional Card Claims I and II Limited, also represented by Harcus Parker, also against Mastercard and Visa, for excessive MIF charges in relation to their corporate and foreign card fees. That claim is also UK-wide but particularly affects those in the travel, hospitality, and luxury sectors.
Trade associations already backing it include ABTA and UKHospitality, and it will be reviewed by the CAT in April 2023 before full trials which are planned to take place in 2024.