CUSTOMERS UNITE AGAINST BANK FEES
Written on the 12 August 2014
MAURICE Blackburn’s campaign against late bank fees continues to play out today in the New South Wales supreme court.
Should the bank fees class actions prevail, any customer who has ever been charged a late payment fee by Westpac, St. George, Citibank, BankSA and ANZ will be eligible to share in an eventual successful outcome.
Depending on the firm’s success, a view exists to extend this action to cover nine financial institutions in all, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, BankWest and American Express added to the mix.
Head of Maurice Blackburn’s class action practice, Andrew Watson, says the firm’s headway with challenging ANZ earlier this year has “opened up the gates of justice”.
“That victory earlier this year was not only for the thousands of ANZ customers we were acting for, but on behalf of every consumer that has ever been charged a late fee,” says Watson.
“Today we have filed open class actions against Westpac, Citibank, St.George, BankSA and ANZ, and should we succeed, any customer of these banks that has ever been charged late payment fees will have a right to access some compensation for those unfair charges.
“Our case is based on the earlier Federal Court ruling against ANZ, and while that judgment is still under appeal, we think we have a very strong case and that this course of action provides the best safeguard for the rights of all those consumers affected by late fees.”
Litigation funder Bentham IMF has financed the class action.
The group’s investment manager James Middleweek says the regime is the only effective means for individuals to challenge corporations in Australia.
“It is clearly evident from this case that the class action regime in Australia – backed by litigation funding – is the only genuinely effective vehicle to offer commercial redress to people that are subjected to corporate wrongdoing in this way,” says Middleweek.
History of the bank fees class actions in Australia: