MasterCard has won a legal battle against the UK retailers including Asda, Morrison, New Look and Next over its interchange fees levied on the use of debit and credit cards.
The retailers accused MasterCard for overcharging the interchange payments paid by shops to credit and debit card issuers when customers purchase goods using their cards.
Additionally, they also alleged that interchange fees by MasterCard for credit and debit card transactions were anti-competitive and infringed UK and EU law.
In 2014, the European Commission ruled that MasterCard infringed European law by imposing numerous interchange fees on cross-border card transactions.
In his verdict, the Commercial Court judge Justice Popplewell announced that the fees were neither anti-competitive nor unlawful.
The judge further said that historic rates collected by the card issuer were essential for it to function.
Welcoming the court verdict, MasterCard said: “The Court recognised the immense benefits that retailers derive from our payment system. In rejecting the retailers’ claims, it found that MasterCard’s interchange fees did not restrict competition and were necessary for the functioning of its payment system.
“In addition, the Court carefully analysed MasterCard’s interchange rates for the entire period of the claim and found that those rates were significantly below the lawful level of interchange that could have been charged to the retailers for those benefits.
“MasterCard views this decision as a confirmation of the legitimacy and importance of interchange in our payment system and a recognition that its value based interchange rates were lawful and compliant with competition law.”
The latest ruling also casts doubt over a £14bn case being brought by former financial services ombudsman Walter Merricks on behalf of 46 million consumers who paid higher prices due to card fees.