While Slater & Gordon announced last week that it was investigating a possible action against the Western Australian bank, Maurice Blackburn filed its claim on 18 April on behalf of more than 6,500 customers.
Maurice Blackburn senior associate Paul Gillet said the inclusion of Bankwest in the fight against unfair bank fees 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 total claim to over $220 million.
“These class actions against unfair bank changes 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,” said Gillet.
“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.”
The bank fees class actions are being funded by IMF (Australia) on a no-win, no-fee basis.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly last week, Slater & Gordon project litigation lawyer Van Moulis said his four-member team will be conducting due diligence on the Bankwest action from Sydney over the next two or three months, with IMF doing the bulk of the face-to-face interviews in Perth.
Moulis said the final decision as to whether the firm will give the green light to launching formal court proceedings would rely heavily on the outcome of the Senate Inquiry into the method by which banks place companies into receivership.
He said if a class action is launched, it would have around 150 members.
Maurice Blackburn first filed a case against ANZ in September 2010, followed by CBA, Westpac, NAB and Citibank in December 2011.
In February this year the firm also launched proceedings against Westpac subsidiaries St George and Bank SA, before adding Bankwest to the group this week.