A consortium of 12 retailers including Arcadia, Next and Asda have had their case against Visa thrown out of the Court of Appeal.

  • Retailers were attempting to claim damages back to 1977
  • Compensation now limited to interchange fees dating back to 2007
  • Visa continues to dispute its rates were anti-competitive

The Court of Appeal has dismissed the retailers’ appeal of a High Court decision to limit the claims they could make against Visa’s fees to a six-year period.

The retailers can now only claim compensation for transactions that happened between 2007 and 2013. The ruling will significantly reduce the amount of compensation, considering they were claiming damages back to 1977.

Other retailers involved in the legal action include Morrisons, B&Q, Argos, Debenhams, House of Fraser, Iceland, New Look, Comet and Record Shop 2 Limited. Comet and Record Shop 2 have entered liquidation since the legal dispute began.

Visa Europe said it welcomed the Court of Appeal’s decision because “it is appropriate to limit the time period relating to these claims”.

Legal action is still ongoing between the retailers and Visa over whether the retailers were overcharged for interchange fees for transactions dating back to 2007.

A Visa spokeswoman said: “We continue to strongly dispute the claims, our interchange rates have been set lawfully at all times for the benefit of consumers, businesses, issuers and acquirers in the UK.”

Six-year limit

Visa applied to strike out the claim for damages predating 2013 because under the Limitation Act 1980, claimants usually have six years to bring their claim.

The retailers argued the six-year rule did not apply because under section 32 of the Act, time does not start to run where facts have been concealed and it only starts when facts have been discovered or could reasonably have been discovered by a claimant with a cause to investigate.

Stephen Critchley, a senior associate at Collyer and Bristow, explained the retailers “have had difficulty identify a significant body of facts and instead argued that facts were being concealed even now”.

Last week it emerged MasterCard had paid Tesco £39m in a settlement over interchange fees.

However, the case against MasterCard’s fees is much stronger because the European Commission won a court case against MasterCard after it failed to cap interchange fees.

In contrast, Visa pre-empted further action from the European Commission by agreeing to cap such fees, which has left it on a much firmer legal standing.