Sainsbury Wins $91 Million In Card-Fee Dispute With Mastercard
J Sainsbury Plc was awarded 69 million pounds ($91 million) by a London judge following a long-running dispute over fees charged on card transactions with Mastercard Inc.
MasterCard charges on U.K. credit and debit card transactions "restricted competition by object and effect,” according to a Competition and Appeal Tribunal judgment published Thursday.
The judgment is the first ruling in a series of claims brought by retailers in the U.K. and Europe, alleging that MasterCard and Visa charged anti-competitive and excessive fees on debit and credit card transactions. The retailers are seeking combined damages of more than 1.2 billion pounds.
"This marks the first substantial award in a competition damages claim in the U.K., and we believe in Europe,” Sarah Houghton, a lawyer at Mishcon de Reya advising the supermarket chain, said in an e-mail. “It has an importance well beyond the precedent it sets for claims against the MasterCard and Visa schemes.”
The 69-million pound victory is equivalent to more than a day’s sales for Sainsbury, which brought in 23.5 billion pounds last year.
The ruling follows news that British consumers are preparing a 19 billion-pound class action lawsuit against MasterCard. Walter Merricks, a lawyer who once led the U.K. organization that handles consumer disputes with banks, has hired Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP to draft a lawsuit they plan to file by September, according to a July 6 statement. The claim would be the U.K.’s biggest and one of the first filed under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
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