British supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has been awarded £69m (€83m) by a London judge following a long-running dispute over fees charged on card transactions with Mastercard.
Mastercard charges on UK credit and debit card transactions “restricted competition” according to a Competition and Appeal Tribunal judgment published yesterday.
The judgment is the first in a series of claims brought by retailers in the UK and Europe, alleging Mastercard and Visa charged anti- competitive and excessive fees on debit and credit card transactions.
The retailers are seeking combined damages of more than £1.2bn.
“This marks the first substantial award in a competition damages claim in the UK, and, we believe, in Europe,” Sarah Houghton, a lawyer at Mishcon de Reya advising the supermarket chain, said.
“It has an importance well beyond the precedent it sets for claims against the Mastercard and Visa schemes.”
The £69m victory is equivalent to more than a day’s sales for Sainsbury, which brought in £23.5bn last year.
The ruling follows news British consumers are preparing a £19bn class action lawsuit against Mastercard.
The claim would be the UK’s biggest and one of the first filed under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
Though the ruling resulted in compensation for Sainsbury, the tribunal may have boosted Mastercard’s defence against that class action, after it concluded the retailer didn’t pass the costs to consumers in the form of higher prices, Mastercard said.
The credit-card provider will take a pre-tax charge of about $90m in its second quarter to cover the judgment.
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