Harcus Parker, a UK-based commercial litigation law firm, has secured the progression of a class action claim against Visa and Mastercard. The class action seeks compensation for UK businesses, which were charged Multilateral Interchange Fees (MIFs) for accepting payments using corporate credit cards. The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) has set a date in April 2023 for a Collective Proceedings Order hearing.
The class action is open to all businesses, including large international companies and local businesses, as well as some non-UK companies. Many of these businesses, particularly in the travel and hospitality sectors but also the luxury sector too, have been particularly hard hit by Brexit, Covid-19 and the current economic climate.
Harcus Parker claims that Visa and Mastercard have forced banks to agree to a level of MIFs set by the two giants, which are “anti-competitive and unlawful”.
Jeremy Robinson, competition litigation partner at Harcus Parker, added: “We want to ensure businesses across the UK economy are properly compensated. We are making a stand against unlawful interchange fees, which should be abolished. UK businesses in the travel, hospitality, retail and luxury sectors are particularly hurt by Mastercard and Visa’s multilateral interchange fees and we are pleased that this important claim has been endorsed by a number of leading trade bodies including UK Hospitality and ABTA.”
The businesses involved
A number of trade bodies have endorsed the claim, including:
● ABTA, which represents over 3,900 leading UK travel brands
● UK Hospitality, which represents 740 members representing many businesses across the UK
● UKinbound, which represents 330 businesses
● Tourism Alliance, which represents 65 associations and organisations, which in turn comprise thousands of potential claimants
● Advantage Travel Partnership, which represents 350 businesses with over £4.5billion annual turnover and which officially endorsed the case at its 2022 annual overseas conference.
The fees explained
Multilateral Interchange Fees make up the greater part of the service charges levied by banks on businesses when customers pay by card. Typically for every £100 spent, up to £1.80 is charged on payments made by corporate cards.
Since 2015, EU law capped Multilateral Interchange Fees at 0.3 percent on consumer credit card transactions, and 0.2 percent for consumer debit cards. However, this cap did not apply to corporate cards or for consumer card inter-regional transactions. These sales have continued to attract fees of up to 1.8 percent per transaction. Harcus Parker accuses Mastercard and Visa of requiring banks to charge anti-competitive MIFs on businesses. These MIFs for corporate and inter-regional payments should be zero per cent, say Harcus Parker.
About HARCUS PARKER
Harcus Parker is a commercial litigation firm. It specialises in bringing and defending complex claims, often involving large groups of claimants. Founded by Damon Parker in 2019, the firm is a recognised market leader in group litigation, case management and litigation funding.