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27 firms take legal action over Mastercard and Visa processing fees

More than 20 high street firms have joined forces to launch new legal action against Mastercard and Visa in a long-running row over processing fees.

Law firm Humphries Kerstetter said it was working on behalf of 27 firms - including a major supermarket chain - to seek nearly £300 million in damages for losses they allege have been caused by the fixing of so-called interchange fees.

These fees are charged to retailers each time a credit or debit card payment is processed.

The action comes after supermarket giant Tesco and high street retailer WH Smith recently won settlements on interchange fees, negotiated by Humphries Kerstetter.

Sainsbury's also won a separate court case last summer, with a £68 million award from Mastercard.

Humphries Kerstetter said the 27 companies that have instructed it to take action include well-known names on the high street, such as retailers, betting shops and restaurants.

It added a "large number" of other firms are also considering joining the litigation group.

The legal action is being funded by Therium Capital Management Limited, which is a litigation financing specialist.

The move comes in the wake of a lengthy legal dispute between retailers and the card firms after the European Commission investigated interchange fees.

The commission voiced concerns over the practice of fixing these costs at Visa and Mastercard and the European Union has since passed legislation to cap interchange fees permanently.

Firms and consumers are also taking legal action against the credit card firms in the United States, although an appeals court threw out a landmark seven billion US dollar (£5.4 billion) class action settlement in the suit.

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