The top 20 cases of 2014: in detail

The action against MasterCard, lead by Arcadia Group has made it in to The Lawyer’s top 20 cases of 2014. The commentary is as follows, and The Lawyer’s summary article is available here.



When? November 2014 (preliminary issues), liability trial to follow

Where? Commercial Court, Judge TBC

Credit card company MasterCard is facing conjoined actions brought by 12 major UK retailers, led by the Arcadia Group, with a total value of £450m. The claimants are also seeing additional damages under an extension of the relevant claim period, going back to 1992.

The case concerns the setting of interchange rates which form the largest part of the service charges levied on retailers in relation to MasterCard payment card transactions.

The issue has already gone before the European Commission, which found that MasterCard had infringed EU law on the issue. In the High Court the claimants allege that the fixing of interchange rates within the MasterCard network by MasterCard and its member banks in effect operates as a form of cartel. Because they are said to have been unlawfully charged, claimants say that the rates are null and void.

Proceedings were first issued in May 2012 against MasterCard. A similar action is being pursued against Visa on behalf of the same 12 claimants, again led by Stewarts.

MasterCard is facing challenges to interchange fees in several jurisdictions, and in the US preliminary court approval was given to a class settlement of $7.25bn in relation to both MasterCard and Visa.

The EU is examining proposals to amend the 2007 Payment Services Directive to ensure a level playing field for retailers.

For the claimants (1) Arcadia Group Brands Ltd, Arcadia Group Multiples (Ireland) Ltd, Bhs (Jersey) Ltd, Bhs Ltd, Topshop/Topman Ltd and Topshop/Topman (Ireland) Ltd, (2) Asda Stores Ltd, (3) B&Q plc, (4) Comet Group Ltd (in Liquidation), (5) Debenhams Retail plc & Debenhams Retail (Ireland) Ltd, (6) Homebase Ltd and Argos Ltd, (7) House of Fraser (Stores) Ltd, (8) Iceland Foods Ltd, (9) Next Retail Ltd, (10) New Look Retailers Ltd, (11) Record Shop 2 Ltd (formerly HMV Music Ltd) (in Administration), HMV Ireland Ltd (in Receivership) and HMV Guernsey Ltd (in Administration), and (12) WM Morrison Supermarkets plc

Brick Court Chambers’ Fergus Randolph QC leading Matrix Chambers’ Christopher Brown, instructed by Stewarts partners Jonathan Sinclair, Kate Pollock and Scott Campbell

This article first featured in The Lawyer, 06 January 2014, By Joanne Harris, Lucy Burton, Kate Beioley, Katy Dowell



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