News: Company is facing a £19bn lawsuit.
MasterCard will have to pay supermarket chain Sainsbury’s £68.6 million after losing a hearing over interchange fees.
The case is regarding charges imposed on payments with credit and debit cards, which saw the supermarket pay fees on card transactions under MasterCard’s payment scheme.
The Competition Appeal Tribunal ruled on Thursday that MasterCard had broken EU and UK competition laws on charges that it made on cards used by the retailer’s customers.
Sainsbury’s had claimed damages for a breach of the Competition Act for the level at which the interchange fees were set, backing up its claim it used a 2014 decision by the EU Commission in which MasterCard was found to have infringed EU law by imposing different fees on cross-border card transactions.
The card scheme is facing a £19 billion lawsuit over allegations that it imposed “illegal” card fees.
MasterCard paid $61m to supermarket chain Tesco in June of last year in a settlement over interchange fees, this was the first of what is expected to be a long line of lawsuits that have been lodged by British retails.
Tesco is one of 20 UK retailers to have filed a suit against MasterCard in 2013.
MasterCard responded to the ruling saying: “On first look, we are grateful that the court found that significant benefits flow to both retailers and cardholders from interchange in the UK.
“What’s interesting is that the court concluded that a lawful level of credit interchange for the UK market would be over 65% higher than the 30bps rate cap imposed in the 2015 Interchange Fee Regulation (“IFR”).
“At the same time, the court criticized and rejected the ‘merchant indifference test,’ the cornerstone for the IFR. While we are disappointed to see liability as part of the finding, we note that in awarding a limited portion of the claimed damages, the court concluded that Sainsbury’s did not pass through interchange costs to consumers in the form of higher prices.”
The company went on to say that it expects to take a pre-tax charge of approximately $90m as a special item in its Q2 2016 financial results.