A commercial litigator in the U.K. is filing a class-action lawsuit on behalf of a large group of clients contesting multilateral interchange fees (MIFs) charged by Visa and Mastercard.
Harcus Parker will bring the corporate card claim to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), the U.K.’s specialist judicial body for hearing competition cases, according to a press release emailed to PYMNTS on Thursday (March 31).
The law firm, which specializes in group litigation, competition lawsuits and class-action claims, is seeking compensation on behalf of U.K. businesses that were charged MIFs for accepting payments using U.K. corporate credit cards and credit and debit cards from overseas visitors.
Harcus Parker claims that Visa and Mastercard set the level of MIFs and then forced banks to pay rates that are “anti-competitive and unlawful,” said Jeremy Robinson, competition litigation partner at Harcus Parker.
“This case is about putting pounds back into the pockets of businesses across the economy and making a stand against unlawful interchange fees. The fact is that the Supreme Court and the European Court of Justice have both condemned this practice for consumer credit and debit cards. UK courts should now clamp down on commercial card and inter-regional fees,” Robinson said in the release.
MIFs comprise the biggest percentage of fees levied by banks on businesses when customers pay by card. Typically, for every 100 pounds in spend, approximately £1.80 is charged by Visa and Mastercard for charges made by corporate cards, the release said.
The U.K. caps MIFs at 0.3% on consumer credit card transactions and 0.2% on consumer debit cards but there’s no set limit for corporate cards, which can run 1.8%. Harcus Parker is accusing both card giants of imposing anti-competitive fees since they set their own fees instead of market competition.
“These MIFs for corporate and inter-regional payments should be zero percent,” according to the law firm.
The class action is open to all businesses, including some companies outside of the U.K.