Court approves application paving path to bank fees settlement

18 November 2014
The Federal Court has today approved orders to help facilitate settlement negotiations in the bank fees class action against the National Australia Bank.

The orders will open the doors to any NAB customers that have been charged exception fees, enabling them to register to participate in any agreed settlement.

NAB has publicly indicated its commitment to exploring settlement opportunities, and Australia’s leading class actions law firm, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, worked with the bank in agreeing on today’s orders.

Today, in the Federal Court in Sydney, Justice Jacobson approved orders that will give all NAB customers a further opportunity to participate in this class action, and potentially to recover millions of dollars charged in exception fees.

Between 25 November this year and 27 January 2015, NAB customers who haven’t already registered their interest in joining the class action, will be able to do so at Financial Redress is a wholly-owned subsidiary of litigation funder IMF Bentham Ltd, which is funding the bank fees case.

Paul Gillett, Senior Associate in the class actions team at Maurice Blackburn, said it was an important early step in securing a settlement for bank customers.

“We welcome NAB’s common-sense approach in exploring the resolution of the bank fees class action against it, and we encourage other banks to follow suit,” Mr Gillett said.

“The court has enabled negotiations to progress productively, which is a positive outcome for NAB customers who have been hit with these fees.

“This is evidence that Australia has a mature class actions regime which is able to provide meaningful remedy to people on a mass scale, whilst providing a necessary check on corporate conduct.”

James Middleweek, Managing Director of Financial Redress, said bank customers have long regarded $30-$40 exception fees as unfair.

“It’s pleasing, therefore, to see NAB being proactive among banks in trying to do the right thing by providing redress to their customers. The challenge is now for other banks to follow their lead,” Mr Middleweek said.

“Following today’s decision by the Court, I encourage any NAB customers who are not yet members of the NAB Class Action to complete the registration process on, so as not to miss out on any compensation.”

History of the bank fees class actions

  • 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
  • 18 April 2012: Class action filed against BankWest
  • 11 May 2012: High Court grants leave to appeal Justice Gordon's judgment of 5 December 2011
  • 14 August 2012: High Court hears appeal from Justice Gordon's judgment of 5 December 2011
  • 6 September 2012: High Court rules that bank fees can be considered penalties
  • 2-10 December 2013: Bank fees class action trial against ANZ runs in the Federal Court before Justice Michelle Gordon
  • 5 February 2014: Justice Gordon hands down judgment finding that late payment fees on credit cards are penalties and should be repaid, with no retrospective time limitation on claims. Justice Gordon finds for the ANZ on the other fees.

General information

  • Banks charged Australian households (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

Media enquiries 

Cameron Scott at Maurice Blackburn
(T) (03) 9605 2832 / 0400 876 466

James Middleweek at IMF Bentham/Financial Redress
(T) (08) 9225 2303 / 0423 975 063