Canadian Competition Tribunal Drops Antitrust Suit vs. Visa, MasterCard

July 25, 2013

The Canadian Competition Tribunal on Tuesday dismissed a complaint from the federal Competition Bureau that the major card networks have been engaging in anticompetitive behavior. The ruling means, for the moment, credit interchange in the country will not be capped, merchants must accept all varieties of a network’s cards and they cannot surcharge when customers pay with more costly cards.

A summary of the decision–details of which will remain temporarily confidential–indicated the tribunal dismissed the complaint based on a section of the Competition Act it said “requires a resale.” Even if the tribunal had found Visa and MasterCard had been in violation of the section in question, it still would have dismissed the case because it believes the issues are more properly addressed through the traditional regulatory process conducted by the federal government. The Competition Tribunal is a quasi-governmental court with economic and legal expertise.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty called for a special meeting of a payments advisory committee to discuss how to address the matter going forward.

“As job creators and drivers of economic growth, Canada’s small business owners and entrepreneurs—along with consumers—deserve clear information and fair and transparent rules on the type of payment system they use,” Flaherty said in a statement.