More big banks drawn into class action on unfair fees

1 February 2012
Everyday Australians have ramped up the fight against unfair bank fees with over 10,500 more people today joining Australia's biggest series of class actions, after Maurice Blackburn Lawyers filed a further claim this morning in the Federal Court against Westpac subsidiaries St George Bank and Bank SA.

Maurice Blackburn Senior Associate Paul Gillett says the inclusion of St George Bank and Bank SA adds another 10,500 customers and an estimated $16 million in claims to the other class actions against ANZ, CBA, Westpac, Citibank and NAB, taking the claim to well over $200 million.

"These class actions against unfair bank charges are the largest in Australia's history - $216 million for fees charged against 160,500 customers from seven banks - and there's every chance it will continue growing," Mr Gillett said.

"There are families and businesses in every corner of the country that have had enough of unfair bank fees and Maurice Blackburn wants to help them get their money back.

"Australians are sick of the banks throwing their weight around, taking them for granted and charging outrageous fees, whilst happily reaping record profits. This is a chance for people everywhere to fight back."

Kensington mother of two, and former Sydney small retail business owner Lauren Vella, says the exception fees she's been charged by St George have placed huge pressures on her family and her business, which she had to sell at a loss.

"The unfair fees we were continually forced to pay put a huge amount of pressure on us and I'm extremely concerned that if nothing is done to stop them, we might have to sell our house that we've worked hard to buy as a legacy for our two young sons," Ms Vella said.

"The banks don't seem to care or want to help and they don't realise how badly this can affect families like us who are just after a fair go at trying to create a better life.

"If I can't leave a legacy for my kids with a house, I can leave a legacy that I helped change the banking system and made it fairer for them as they grow up."

The bank fees class actions are being funded by IMF (Australia) Ltd, on a no-win no-fee basis for participants. Registrations are still open through IMF's subsidiary Financial Redress at www.financialredress.com.au.

History

  • 22 September 2010: First bank fees class action filed against ANZ
  • 5 December 2011: Justice Gordon in the Federal Court finds that late payment fees are capable of being penalties, but finds for ANZ on other fees
  • 16 December 2011: Class actions filed against Commonwealth, Westpac, NAB and Citibank
  • 22 December 2011: Maurice Blackburn appeals adverse findings in Justice Gordon's December judgment
  • 1 February 2012: Class action filed against Westpac subsidiaries St George and BankSA

Estimated claim size

Bank

Group members

Claim size

Range of fees charged

ANZ

38,000

$50m

$20 - $45

BankSA

1,500

$2m

$20 - $45

Citibank

10,000

$15m

$7 - $50

Commonwealth

45,000

$56m

$20 - $35

NAB

30,000

$38m

$25 - $60

St George

9,000

$14m

$20 - $45

Westpac

30,000

$38m

$30 - $50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

General information

  • Banks charged Australian households (that is, not including businesses) $652 million in exception fees in FY2010, down from $1.3 billion in FY2009 and $1.2 billion in FY2008
  • Banks charged Australian businesses $112 million in exception fees in FY2010, down from $197 million in FY2009 and $209 million in FY2008
  • Banks earned $4.2 billion in fees (all fees, not just exception fees) from households in FY2010, a drop of 16% from the previous year
  • Banks earned $6.9 billion in fees (all fees, not just exception fees) from businesses in FY2010, an increase of 13% from the previous year
  • The big four banks posted a combined profit of $24 billion for FY2011

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