Previous European and UK litigation has already found European and UK interchange fees to be illegal, but there has been no court ruling yet on the illegality of MIFs on corporate cards or inter-regional MIFs on consumer debit and credit card transactions. Against this background, the law firm Harcus Parker has brought a class action against Mastercard and Visa to recover MIFs generated by businesses that accept card payments in the UK. The action seeks full reimbursement of MIFs generated by these companies, compensation for past losses suffered by the companies and an end to illegal charges in the future.
If the court agrees that these MIFs are also illegal and should be cancelled, this means that the companies have lost money and deserve to be compensated for the MIFs they have paid. Significant damages are likely to be awarded if the court upholds the claim. The value of each claim depends on the type of transaction, the applicable multilateral brokerage fee and the percentage charged.
Unlike other claims brought in court on behalf of individual businesses, which are primarily directed at UK MIFs and other MIFs by extension, this commercial card claim covers all businesses that accept credit or debit card payments in the UK and specifically relates to MIFs that have not yet been adjudicated.
Who Can Join This Class Action?
When you register, you will be placed in one of two groups:
The Opt-In Group:
If your company’s average annual turnover before the Covid-19 pandemic was £100 million or more, you will be placed in the ‘opt-in’ group. The term ‘opt-in’ means that your company will have to actively and formally choose to participate in the process against Mastercard, Visa or both. You can choose to participate in one or both complaints against Mastercard and Visa, but this can only be done after the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has formally “certified” the opt-in cases.
The Opt-Out Group:
If your company’s average annual turnover before the 19 year old bird flu pandemic was less than £100 million, you will be in the opt-out group. Inclusion means that your company is automatically included as an applicant and only needs to express an interest. If the CAT certifies the claim and it is successful, the claimants in the opt-out group will receive their share of the damages.
This means that your company is automatically included in the complaint, unless you choose to opt out, and you will be entitled to a share of the damages or settlement. You can opt out of complaints against Mastercard or Visa by clicking on the link provided. However, if you opt out, you will not be entitled to receive compensation in the event of a subsequent award of damages.
How Does It Work Financially?
The case is fully funded by Bench Walk Advisers, a third party litigation funder, and fully insured. This means that your company will not need to budget to participate in the action.
If The Case Is Successful:
If this class action is successful, companies will receive damages for losses incurred. This is particularly important as the UK has left the EU, but it is still possible to bring infringements of EU competition law in the English courts, for losses incurred up to the date of the UK’s departure from the EU on 31 December 2020.
If Harcus Parker is successful, companies that have paid illegal MIFs could be entitled to a full refund. This could mean billions of pounds for businesses of all sizes and in all sectors of the economy that accepted credit or debit card payments in the UK. Businesses could be awarded significant damages for losses suffered as a result of illegal MIFs.
If The Case Is Lost:
On the other hand, if Harcus Parker loses the case, it would mean that the businesses concerned would have to continue to pay MIFs, which could result in additional costs for them. In addition, this could have negative consequences for the businesses’ commercial relationships, as customers may be less inclined to use credit or debit cards if they consider that the charges applied are unfair.
It should also be noted that if the Court finds MIFs on business cards or inter-regional MIFs on consumer debit and credit card transactions to be unlawful, this could have implications for other ongoing MIF litigation. It could also lead to a review of the pricing practices of credit and debit card companies, with potential implications for the entire financial sector.
Ultimately, the outcome of Harcus Parker’s lawsuit against Mastercard and Visa will have significant consequences for the companies involved, as well as for the financial sector as a whole. It is therefore important to follow the case closely and see how it develops.