Credit card late fees class action set for High Court appeal

11 September 2015
The High Court will hear an appeal within the next six months on whether ANZ credit card late fees are excessive or unfair.

The High Court of Australia today granted the plaintiffs, represented by Maurice Blackburn, special leave to appeal a decision in the long-running bank fees class action against ANZ bank.

A ruling handed down by Justice Michelle Gordon in November 2014, 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. This was overturned in April this year by the full court of the Federal Court.

National head of class actions at Maurice Blackburn, Andrew Watson, said the key issue in this appeal would be whether late fees on credit cards were unlawful.

“There is a public interest in having these issues resolved by Australia’s highest court,” Mr Watson said.

“We have always been determined to take this fight to the end. Hundreds of thousands of affected Australian bank customers that have paid late payment fees on credit cards that we believe are unconscionable, unjust and excessive.”

“It is only because we have an effective class actions regime in Australia that people can join together to take on a large corporation and pursue their rights through actions such as this.

The Appeal on behalf of ANZ credit card customers is being funded by IMF Bentham Ltd. James Middleweek, Managing Director of Financial Redress, which is the IMF subsidiary promoting the action, said, “ I am delighted that the High Court ruling today has breathed fresh life into the fight against unfair bank fees.”

Further details

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.
  • 18 November 2014: Federal Court approved orders to help facilitate settlement negotiations action against NAB, enabling any NAB customers to register to participate in any agreed settlement.
  • 8 April, 2015: Full court of the Federal Court reverses the February 2014 decision of Justice Gordon that found that late fees are penalties
  • 6 May, 2015: A special leave application was made to the High Court on the point of late fees on credit cards.
  • 11 September, 2015: High Court grants special leave to appeal.