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Judge upholds $5.6bn interchange settlement

Judge upholds $5.6bn interchange settlement

A US federal appeals court has upheld a $5.6 billion antitrust class-action settlement between 12 million retailers and Visa and Mastercard over interchange fees.

The court denied an effort to kill the deal by a group of gas station operators. It also rejected a complaint that the $523 million of legal fees awarded to the retailers' lawyers was too high.

Stretching back to 2005, the litigation saw a settlement reached in 2012, with Visa and Mastercard agreeing to pay up $7.25 billion to retailers over claims that the card schemes had improperly fixed credit and debit card swipe fees.

However, the deal was soon rejected by a host of top retailers and trade groups, who counter-sued the card schemes in search of heftier fines and deeper reforms. Nearly 8000 merchants opted out, bringing the settlement down to $5.7 billion.

In a victory for those merchants, in 2016 the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York unanimously struck down the settlement, with Judge Pierre Leval saying: "This is not a settlement; it is a confiscation."

Then in 2019, a different judge approved the new $5.6 billion settlement which has now been upheld.

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