Unfair bank fees class action faces ultimate High Court test
4 February 2016
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, backed by litigation funder IMF Bentham, will return to the High Court today in a final bid to resolve the bank fees battle for customers, once and for all.
The Court will be asked to rule that late payment fees ANZ charged its customers on credit cards were illegal penalties and in breach of consumer protection laws. The case returns to the High Court after an initial favourable 2014 trial judgment was overturned on appeal.
National Head of Class Actions at Maurice Blackburn, Andrew Watson, said it has been a long, hard fight on behalf of bank customers nationwide.
“There has always been a strong public interest in rigorously testing the fees, and it is fitting that the highest court in the land will ultimately resolve Australia’s biggest consumer class action,” Mr Watson said.
“There are important principles of consumer protection and consumer rights at play here, and we believe that it is the right thing to do for all banking customers in this country.
“We will be arguing the late payment fees ANZ charged its credit card customers are illegal penalties and contrary to consumer protection legislation. It is crucial that these laws preventing people from being charged illegal penalties and unconscionable transactions are not mere empty vessels, and that they preserve people’s rights as they were designed to.”
James Middleweek, Investment Manager at IMF Bentham, said the case had the potential to set an important precedent in the Australian consumer landscape.
“This is an important day. Hundreds of thousands of bank customers believe that their banks have unfairly stung them with exorbitant fees. Let’s hope that the banks will finally be held to account,” Mr Middleweek said.
Mr Watson said the two-day final hearing will only deal with the late payment fees, which were found to be penalties in the Federal Court’s original decision by Justice Gordon, which was overturned by the Full Court of the Federal Court.