June 10, 2024

CAT will permit class lawsuits regarding multilateral interchange fees to proceed

On June 7, 2024, the Competition Appeal Tribunal unanimously decided to allow class lawsuits to proceed against Visa and Mastercard (“the Defendants”) in which merchants accuse the credit card networks of violating competition laws for overcharging commercial card multilateral interchange fees – fees that enable merchants to engage in card-based transactions with customers.  The ruling was issued by the Tribunal in response to petitions filed by proposed class representatives (“PCRs”) – Commercial and Interregional Card Claims I Limited (“CICC I”) and Commercial and Interregional Card Claims II Limited (“CICC II”) – that sought to combine standalone claims for losses and damages resulting from the overcharges.  According to the PCRs, the Defendants’ overcharges had an anti-competitive effect on UK and EU markets, which breached the Competition Act 1998 and/or Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

While the Tribunal refused applications to certify the classes in June 2023, the recent ruling clearly indicates that the Tribunal intends to grant the collective proceedings orders (“CPOs”) based on an adjusted class definition.  According to the Judgment, the definition was revised to reflect the withdrawal of claims related to “Interregional Card Transactions” and now solely refers to claims related to “Commercial Card Transactions.”  Before the cases can proceed, the PCRs must issue new Publicity Notices that include the Adjusted Original Class Definition, and persons who wish to make representations must be given three weeks to do so.  The Tribunal stated that it will issue formal orders to grant the CPOs at the end of the three-week period, subject to any representations that may cause the Tribunal to reconsider.

CAT Case Summary | CAT Judgment Summary | Judgment