Class action claims against Visa and Mastercard, brought on behalf of UK travel and hospitality businesses over card-payment fees, are to be widened with a new lawsuit launched on behalf of all UK businesses.
The claims for billions of pounds-worth of payments and damages for debit and credit card fees the class action lawyers argue are unlawful and excessive will be heard by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT).
Harcus Parker, a UK-based commercial litigation law firm specialising in class action lawsuits, is bringing the claims against Mastercard and Visa.
The new claim complements those filed against Mastercard and Visa in the CAT last year.
Lawyers at Harcus Parker believe it would be one of the biggest competition compensation claims in UK history.
They will argue that any UK business which accepted payment by Mastercard or Visa-branded debit or credit cards should be compensated for allegedly overcharged Multilateral Interchange Fees (MIFs).
These are the fees businesses pay to their banks to accept debit or credit card payments and can comprise up to 90% of a firm’s monthly bank charges.
However, the fees are set by Mastercard and Visa and imposed on the banks as a condition of participation in the Mastercard and Visa card schemes.
Jeremy Robinson, competition litigation partner at Harcus Parker, said: “We want to ensure businesses across the UK economy are properly compensated.
“The proposed class representative in this case 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.”
The new claim is in addition to claims against Mastercard and Visa for excessive MIF charges in relation to corporate and foreign card fees filed at the CAT in June 2022.
That claim particularly affects travel, hospitality and luxury sector businesses and is supported by Abta and the UKHospitality association.
The case is due to be reviewed by the CAT in April before full trials expected to take place in 2024.
This latest class action will be open to all UK businesses which accept Mastercard and Visa consumer debit or credit cards, with a claim period from 2017 to the date of judgment award or settlement.
Businesses with an average annual pre-Covid turnover of £100 million or more should opt-in to the claim. Businesses with turnover below £100 million, which register online, will automatically be included unless they opt out.
Harcus Parker note Mastercard and Visa have previously settled several claims for overcharged interchange fees, but businesses may still be eligible to join the claim even if they have settled claims.
The case is financed by a third-party litigation funder, Bench Walk Advisers, and is fully insured. There is no cost to businesses joining the action and no cost if the case is unsuccessful.
UK businesses are invited to register their interest in the claims here.