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Nat'l Retail Federation to Appeal Credit Card Swipe-Fee Settlement

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD | Last updated on

Litigation surrounding credit card swipe fees has been in and out of court for nearly a decade, beginning in 2005, when according to Bloomberg, merchants filed a class action against credit card companies and their banks alleging price fixing.

On December 13, Judge Gleeson, District Judge for the Eastern District of New York, approved a class action settlement, dubbed by Bloomberg as the "largest-ever U.S. antitrust accord."

That may all change, however, as the National Retail Federation recently filed a notice of appeal to the Second Circuit.

The Settlement

The $5.7 billion settlement, between Visa and Mastercard on one side, and merchants on the others, was designed to "resolve merchants' complaints about swipe fees," reports The Washington Post.

After reviewing the settlement, Judge Gleeson stated: "I find that the plan is both fair and reasonable, and thus I approve it." He elaborated that the plan was "recommended by experienced and competent counsel," and his decision was "buttressed by the relatively small number of opt-outs and objections from class members."

Appeal Forthcoming

Contrary to the lack of objections perceived by Judge Gleeson, several parties filed notices of appeal the same day the settlement was approved according to the docket.

Just last week, the National Retail Federation filed a notice of appeal and issued a statement calling Judge Gleeson's decision "flawed." The NRF explained, "The settlement does nothing to reform the price-fixing payments system that has let credit card swipe fees skyrocket over the past decade and nothing to keep them from continuing to soar in the future."

Meantime, a lobbying group that represents Visa and Mastercard, the Electronic Payments Coalition, stated: "These same tired arguments were raised over and over during the negotiations and would have been included in the final terms if they had any merit."

We don't know what the Second Circuit will decide on appeal, but we know one thing: this is far from over.

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