A very interesting class action in Australia against exorbitant bank fees has now widened, reports the New Lawyer Magazine.
Originally against the ANZ, the action now includes Westpac, Commonwealth Bank (owner of the ASB), National Australia Bank and Citibank, and is for more than $200 million NZ ($197 million AUS).
Maurice Blackburn Cashman’s head of class actions Andrew Watson said today’s cases would:
…build on the recent judgment regarding a Federal Court ruling that late payment fees on credit cards were penalties.
“Just like the ANZ class action launched in September last year, these cases allege fees imposed upon customers for overdrawn accounts, late payments, honour and dishonour charges do not reflect the actual cost to the bank.
“Today we are issuing claims on behalf of 45,000 customers of Commonwealth Bank, 30,000 customers of Westpac, 30,000 customers of NAB, and 10,000 customers of Citibank. Including 38,000 customers in the ANZ case, proceedings have now been issued for over 150,000 bank customers.
Watson noted that the class actions were being funded by IMF (Australia) Limited on a no win no fee basis through its subsidiary Financial Redress Limited; with IMF taking 25% of the nett winnings after costs if successful.
Managing Director of Financial Redress James Middleweek said many consumers were continuing to be hit with exorbitant credit card late fee charges.
“Besides targeting the Big Four, the class action today against Citibank highlights that some banks and credit card providers are still charging exception fees way beyond any reasonable estimate of cost,” Mr Middleweek said.
“In Citibank’s case, customers are hit by a monthly $40 overlimit fee, and a weekly $10 late fee. Credit card customers already pay sky high interest rates, without having to suffer these unfair fees on top.”
The decision will be eagerly awaited this side of the Tasman because not only are our banks mostly Australian owned, but because the rulings (if the plaintiffs are successful) would quite likely lead to refunds here, and sizeable ones at that.