U.S. district judge grants preliminary approval of swipe fee settlement

Trish Wexler

A U.S. district judge granted preliminary approval recently of the Visa and MasterCard settlement with retailers despite objections from hundreds of merchants.

During the Friday hearing last week, lawyers for the objecting retailers, including Home Depot, Target and Wal-Mart, told U.S. District Judge John Gleeson that the $7.25 billion settlement provided very little relief to merchants and that the releases protecting Visa and MasterCard from future litigation violates the merchants’ rights, according to The Morning Call.

Gleeson said that the initial objections were “overstated” but added that the legal standard for final approval of the settlement would be set much higher, though he has yet to schedule a hearing for final approval.

Trish Wexler, a spokeswoman for the Electronic Payments Coalition, said that Gleeson’s ruling further indicates that the settlement is a fair resolution to the battle over swipe fees.

“After seven years of negotiation, two years of mediation and compromise by both sides, the judicial process continues to work effectively and we have taken another important step toward settling this dispute between retailers and the payment card industry,” Wexler said.

Mallory Duncan, the general counsel for the National Retail Federation, said that the organization was considering its legal options and that the proposal “should not be forced on the retail industry or retailers’ customers,” The Morning Call reports.

Wexler said that objecting merchants are likely to continue fighting against the terms of the settlement.

“Let’s be clear—the objections from retailer lobbying groups are largely politically motivated in hopes of influencing Congress to give them even more political handouts,” Wexler said. “Regardless, we remain entirely confident that the settlement will ultimately be approved—it is time to put an end to this epic battle.”

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