Bankwest has been drawn into the largest class action against late payment fees in Australian history, worth $223 million. Maurice Blackburn Lawyers yesterday filed a further claim in the Federal Court against the Perth-based company on behalf of more than 6,500 customers.
Lawyers responsible for the action claim the bank continues to have some of the highest fees for customers who miss credit card payments.
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers launched proceedings against Bankwest in the Federal Court in Melbourne yesterday, arguing that $10 million in late credit card repayment feeds and dishonor fees charged by the bank in the past six years should be given back to customers.
Maurice Blackburn senior associate Paul Gillett says the inclusion of Bankwest adds an estimated $10 million in claims to the other class actions against ANZ, CBA, Westpac, Citibank, Bank SA, St George and NAB, taking the claim to over $220 million.
“These class actions against unfair bank charges are the largest in Australia’s history – more than $220 million for fees charged against around 170,000 customers from eight banks – and it continues to grow,” Gillett said.
There are now more than 20,300 West Australian account holders across all of the unfair bank fees class actions we are running, accounting for around 12 per cent of the total group – and we believe there is potential that more will come forward to get their money back.
“People are sick of the banks throwing their weight around, taking them for granted and charging outrageous fees, whilst happily reaping record profits. This is a chance for people everywhere to fight back,” Gillett said.
The bank fees class actions are being funded by IMF (Australia) Ltd, on a no-win no-fee basis.
Perth-based Managing Director of Financial Redress, James Middleweek, said around half of the new group of claimants are from Western Australia.
“Bankwest has always been at the top end of the exception fee scale. However, with all the pressure to reduce these unfair fees, I’m surprised it still charges up to $45 for a business honour fee, and $30/35 for a credit card over limit or late fee,” he said.
The inclusion of Bankwest is the latest in a string of actions launched by Maurice Blackburn against Australian banks, which started with a claim against ANZ in September 2010.