Australia's largest ever consumer class action has quadrupled in size with proceedings against another four banks to be issued today in the Federal Court in Melbourne on behalf of more than 150,000 bank customers for claims worth almost $200 million.
In a major development, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, National Australia Bank and Citibank will now join ANZ as the subject of legal proceedings against exorbitant customer fees.
Maurice Blackburn'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 capable of being penalties.
"These class actions are about bringing fairness to tens of thousands of Australians, from mums and dads to small business owners who have all been hit with exorbitant fees from the major banks," Mr Watson said.
"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.
"That is the equivalent of the entire population of Cairns or enough spectators to fill the MCG one and a half times on Grand Final day."
The value of the claims against the five banks totals $197 million including $50 million against the ANZ, $56 million against Commonwealth Bank, $38 million each for National Australia Bank and Westpac and $15 million for Citibank.
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 Bank Fees class actions are being funded by IMF (Australia) Ltd, on a no win no fee basis. Registrations are still open, for all actions, through IMF's subsidiary Financial Redress at www.financialredress.com.au