The US Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by American Express over a disagreement which credit cards retailers must accept. Many high-end retailers want to be able to accept certain American Express credit cards which require payment of the entire balance each month, while not accepting newer credit cards from American Express which do not have such a requirement. These retailers say that these newer cards are not used by high-end clientele, and thus the high fees imposed by American Express are not worth the cost.
The main disagreement being addressed by the US Supreme court is whether this claim must be subject to arbitration. Under arbitration, the parties involved must pay for the costs of bringing and arguing the case in arbitration. The retailers in this case argue that the most they could recover would be less than the cost of arguing the merits of their case. Because the cost of bringing a case under arbitration can be prohibitively high for smaller claims, many companies include arbitration clauses in their contracts as a way of limiting litigation from consumers and other businesses. The retailers argue that the high costs make arbitration in their case not a suitable substitute for litigation.
This case follows after the Supreme Court ruling in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, where the Supreme Court blocked class action lawsuits when an arbitration clause was present in a consumer contract. The present case disregarded the Concepcion ruling, and a favorable ruling by the Supreme Court could allow consumers and businesses to bring claims which before were economically unfeasible.