The case has received massive publicity and has now started a three week hearing as the biggest consumer class action in Australian legal history. It is the first of eight actions involving over 185,000 customers of eight major Australian banks, claiming $243 million for fees claimed to have been illegally charged in respect of over-limit charges, late payment fees and other fees claimed as being out of line.
They explained that since public pressure made the National Australia Bank (NAB) reduce its fees in 2009, the banks had illegally collected $5 billion in these fees for at least six year. Once the fees have been established in the court case as penalties, then it would apply to all the banks customers for all of the fees charged on them, said Andrew Watson, class action head of the Maurice Blackburn law firm.
“That is a huge issue that will constitute a precedent not just for the banks that we’ve used but for other financial institutions who are levying similar fees and exceptions charges,” The Australia quoted Mr Watson who believes it has a strong case which could open similar class action lawsuits in other industries.
James Middleweek, investment manager of IMF, which funded the class action lawsuit, added that NAB no longer collection such fees and ANZ cutting these fees drastically to just $6 because of consumer pressure would make it hard for the banks to justify the higher fees they used to collect.
Read more at the Interntional business Times