Bank fees fight for consumers likely to go to the High Court
8 April 2015
Almost five years after it began, the unfair bank fees case against ANZ looks destined to reach a final conclusion in the High Court of Australia, after appeals against the Federal Court’s previous rulings were upheld today.
Chief Justice of the Federal Court James Allsop today delivered the judgment of the Full Court of the Federal Court, in response to appeals over last year’s judgment from both sides.
Last year’s ruling handed down by Justice Michelle Gordon, found that late payment fees charged by the ANZ Bank were penalties, and thousands of customers should receive compensation for amounts that had been unfairly charged.
ANZ challenged that ruling, and Maurice Blackburn on behalf of the plaintiffs, challenged the ruling that other exception fees were not considered penalties.
Today the Full Court found in favour of ANZ by overturning Justice Gordon’s original decision that late fees were penalties and rejecting the plaintiffs’ argument that other exception fees ought to have been found to be penalties.
National head of class actions at Maurice Blackburn, Andrew Watson, said the plaintiff’s legal advisors would be reviewing the judgment with a view to making application for special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia.
“There is a public interest in having these issues resolved by Australia’s highest court,” Mr Watson said.
The class actions are being funded by IMF Bentham on a no-win no-fee basis.
Listen to Andrew Watson address the media outside the Federal Court
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
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
18 - 19 August 2014: Hearing of appeal before Full Court of the Federal Court
Wednesday 8 April 2015: Appeal judgment delivered by the Full Court of the Federal Court. Finds in favour of ANZ on its appeals and against the plaintiff on its appeals.