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August 10th 2021

Breaking News: Sainsbury’s Settle with Mastercard in Battle Over Historical Interchange Fees

Sainsbury’s has reached a settlement with Mastercard over the payment of its historic interchange fees. This settlement follows a Supreme Court decision issued in June 2020 which found that the interchange fees charged by Visa and Mastercard were anti-competitive.

In that judgment, the Court held that multi-lateral interchange fees were the product of a collective decision between issuing banks and the card schemes, which violated European and UK competition law.

The remaining issues left to settle, exemption and quantum, were set to be heard by the Competition Appeal Tribunal in October 2021. This settlement (the amount of which has not been disclosed) negates the need for further litigation and ends a nearly decade-long battle between Sainsbury’s and Mastercard, which dates back to December 2012.

Sainsbury’s claim against Visa is still live and the quantum hearing is scheduled for June 2022. Meanwhile, the other claimants from the Supreme Court case, Asda, Argos and Morrisons (collectively “AAM”), have their Mastercard quantum hearing scheduled for January 2023.

What does this mean for my claim?

Although this settlement means the exemption and quantum issues will no longer be litigated, that should not delay or otherwise negatively impact any new or existing claims. In its June 2020 decision, the Supreme Court made it abundantly clear that the exemption and quantum issues were case-specific and what may be competitive (or passed on) by one merchant, won’t necessarily dictate the competitive levels for another merchant.

This settlement further demonstrates that there remains appetite by the card schemes to settle interchange claims before they reach final adjudication.