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Feds, Merchants file appeal to expedite interchange case

The Federal Reserve and the merchants in the debit card interchange lawsuit, known as NACS v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, filed a joint emergency motion asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to expedite action in the case. Within a few hours, the judge granted the motion. The Fed will now file a brief by Oct. 21.
 
Both parties are asking the D.C. Circuit court to move quickly on the Fed's appeal that attempts to overturn a lower court ruling that the regulator's implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act debit card interchange fee was faulty and should be scrapped.  In the emergency motion, the merchants assert that every day that the existing final rule is left in place potentially causes merchants "irreparable injury" because the cap is too high.
 
The Fed argues that expedited treatment is necessary because to vacate the existing rule before a resolution of the appeal "would eliminate the existing regulatory limits on the amount of fees that merchants can be required to pay in connection with each debit card transaction subject to the rule and thus allow the unrestrained imposition of fees by card networks and issuers on the businesses that accept debit cards--precisely the practice that the statute sought to prevent."  The Fed further claims that expedited treatment is necessary to provide "timely guidance and certainty about the rules and procedures governing the millions of debit card transactions being conducted every day--a matter of unusual public interest." 
The Fed said it could not adopt an interim regulation while the appeal is pending without mooting the appeal. A decision is expected soon from the district judge regarding whether he will leave the stay in place throughout the appeal.

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