Bank charges: 1 million claims on hold

09 April 2009 / by Rachael Stiles
Since the Financial Services Authority (FSA) introduced a waiver on refunding bank charges, almost one million cases have been put on hold.

Almost one million current account customers – 972, 565 – have had their claims regarding charges for unauthorised overdraft borrowing frozen, according to official figures obtained from the FSA by consumer campaign website Legal Beagles.

The FSA implemented the waiver on new cases in July 2007, until a test case on bank charges could determine their fairness, and therefore whether or not customers should be refunded.

The Office of Fair Trading and the banks have been battling it out in court ever since, with the High Court ruling last year that the banks' terms and conditions are subject to fairness rules, but the banks are currently appealing this decision.

Last week, the case was delayed further when the House of Lords overturned a ruling made by the Court of Appeal, which refused the banks' request to appeal the High Court's decision.

Since the test case is taking longer than anticipated to come to a conclusion, the FSA has continued to extend the waiver every six months, preventing thousands of people from claiming their money back.

According to figures from the Ministry of Justice, passed onto Legal Beagles earlier this year, more than 65,000 claims are currently frozen in the courts while the test case drags on.

The FSA said that the inconsistency of claim outcomes – some customers were successfully claiming their money back while others were being refused or, in some cases, having their current accounts closed by their bank – meant that everybody should wait until it is settled by the courts.

Only those deemed to be in financial hardship are currently able to reclaim their money, and the FSA's figures show that 97,667 claims of financial difficulty have been made, but the banks have agreed that only 24,595 fall into this category.

About the same number – 24,295 – have been rejected by the banks as being in need of claiming their bank charges back as a result of financial difficulty, the FSA figures show; thousands of others are still awaiting a response.

The banks have not revealed how much was paid out to those reclaiming bank charges before the waiver was put in place, nor to how many customers, but the BBC has estimated that it must be somewhere in the region of £784million, paid to about 378,000 customers.

Find out how to reclaim your bank charges

© Fair Investment Company Ltd