U.S. Circuit Court rejects harmful settlement.
The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled to deny the settlement of the antitrust litigation that was filed to reveal the anti-competitive practices that Visa, MasterCard and the major banks use to set the fees that merchants pay on credit and debit card transactions. The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), which took part as a member of the class, formally opted out and objected to the settlement in 2014, and has now released the following statement in response to the recent ruling:
“RILA enthusiastically welcomes the circuit court’s decision to throw out this harmful settlement,” said Deborah White, executive vice president and general counsel. “Quite simply, the settlement orchestrated by the card networks and banks would have undermined merchants’ legal rights forever and would have allowed Visa and MasterCard to impose higher and higher swipe fees with impunity. Today’s decision is a victory for all merchants and consumers.”
Specifically, the court concluded that “the class plaintiffs were inadequately represented in violation of Rule 23(a)(4) and the Due Process Clause. Accordingly, we vacate the district court’s certification of this class action and reverse the approval of the settlement.”
“This is not a settlement; it is a confiscation,” Judge Pierre Leval said, in a concurrence to the court’s decision.
RILA, along with a majority of the named class plaintiffs and many more within the merchant community, has argued that the settlement fails to address the anti-competitive practices that were the genesis for the lawsuits and denies merchants their right to challenge these practices ever again in court. Specifically, RILA argued that the terms of the settlement:
- Lock in the Visa/MasterCard duopoly,
- Provide no relief from interchange rate setting or other rules,
- Denies all current and future retailers their right to bring future legal action related to interchange rules and rate setting, among other things, against Visa, MasterCard and the banks, and
- Could limit emerging innovations that can bring meaningful competition to the marketplace, such as mobile payments.