Law firm Maurice Blackburn Lawyers this week took the fight against unfair and excessive bank fees to the High Court of Australia, in a case that could see it recoup more than $220 million.
Maurice Blackburn class actions Principal Andrew Watson said the High Court action, part of Australia’s largest class actions, represented an important moment in this case.
He said the class actions against unfair bank charges are the largest in Australia’s history, claiming more than $220 million for fees charged to 170,000 customers from eight banks.
“This is a hard-fought contest, and a complex argument dealing with principles of English law stretching as far back as the 12th Century,” Watson said.
“We have a strong case to make at the [High Court] and we intend to continue taking it up to the banks to help hundreds of thousands of everyday Australians get back money we believe they shouldn’t have had to pay,” Watson said.
The case will come down to an argument about the development and application of the doctrine of penalties.
“We say the law should focus on the reality of the fees charged rather than allowing the banks to hide behind complex wording to avoid the doctrine of penalties,” Watson said.
The class actions are being funded by IMF (Australia) Ltd, on a no-win no-fee basis for participants.
IMF (Australia) Investment Manager, James Middleweek, said the class action was an important exercise in giving people an opportunity to take on the banks.
"At least one bank chief executive has already admitted that these charges were completely inappropriate. Yet two years after we started, not one bank has done anything to compensate customers. Redress is long overdue.”