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Supreme Court

Supreme Court Judgement in the landmark Interchange Fees case

Jun 18th, 2020

James Henson, Partner

On the morning of 17 June 2020 the Supreme Court delivered its decision in the landmark Interchange Fees litigation - Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd (Respondent) v Visa Europe Services LLC and others (Appellants) Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd and others (Respondents) v MasterCard Incorporated and others (Appellants) [2020] UKSC 24.

Once again Langleys Solicitors assisted the European Commission in its successful intervention in the seminal case, which was heard over 4 days in the Supreme Court in January this year.

The case concerned whether certain rules of the payment card schemes operated by Visa and MasterCard were unlawful and had the effect of restricting competition in breach of article 101(1) Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Chapter 1 of the Competition Act 1998. 

The rules in question provided for fees, known as ‘multilateral interchange fees’ (MIFs), passing between banks that provide card services to merchants to the banks that issue cards to customers. For most of the relevant period the MIF typically accounted for 90% of the charge passed onto merchants to take Visa and MasterCard.

Finding in favour of the retailers, Sainsburys, Morrisons, Asda and Argos, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the conclusion of the Court of Appeal that MIFs infringed article 101(1) restricting competition. The Court also addressed a number of other matters including clarifying the law on pass on and the principle of finality in litigation.

The Judgment is one of the most significant anti trust cases in the UK to date and a resounding success for the retailers and the European Commission through its intervention.

A copy of the Judgment and the Supreme Court Press statement can be found here [https://www.supremecourt.uk/cases/uksc-2018-0156.html]

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James Henson


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