The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), the UK’s specialist competition law tribunal, has ordered MasterCard to pay Sainsbury’s damages of £68.5m (plus compound interest) for infringing competition law in its setting of the UK interchange fees which retailers pay in respect of transactions involving MasterCard credit and debit cards.
This judgment will be broadly welcomed by the many other retailers (including Arcadia, Tesco, John Lewis, Ocado, Dixons) who have brought separate claims in the UK High Court and/or CAT against MasterCard in respect of the same interchange fees. A number of these claims were stayed pending judgment in the Sainsbury’s action. In addition, a £19bn class action was launched in the CAT against MasterCard on behalf of UK consumers, on the basis that merchants had passed on the interchange fees to customers in the form of higher prices for goods and services.
Indeed, the judgment provides an exceptionally useful roadmap for those seeking to bring damages claims in relation to infringements of competition law generally, as well as those currently pursuing or considering whether to pursue related damages claims against MasterCard and Visa.