Bank charges latest

26 June 2009 / by Rebecca Sargent
The bank charges saga continues as the House of Lords Law Lords retired yesterday before delivering their judgement in the next six to eight weeks.

Five Law Lords met in the House of Lords between Tuesday and Thursday this week to hear the appeal made by some of the UK's leading banks against the Court of Appeal's decision that bank charges can be governed by fairness rules.

An estimated one million bank charges claims are currently on hold as the banks and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) battle it out through the various courts.

The banks involved in the case include the beleaguered Lloyds, which is struggling to cope with its takeover of HBOS late last year. And there are fears that if the test case goes against the banks it will cause irreparable damage to their balance sheets as they will probably have to repay billions of pounds to consumers.

However, according to the BBC, the OFT has threatened that it will continue to pursue bank charges as unfair, even if the House of Lords finds in favour of the banks.

Several campaigners, including Moneysavingexpert's Martin Lewis have been ardently following the bank charges saga and are urging consumers to continue to make their claims despite them being put on hold.

According to Mr Lewis, the sooner a claim is put in the queue, the sooner a pay out is likely if the House of Lords finds in favour of the OFT. Meanwhile, Mr Lewis told GMTV that thousands of claims are still going through, filed under financial hardship.

Martin Lewis explained that there are several definitions of financial hardship when it comes to bank charges claims, and that he is seeing thousands of claims being honoured as more and more people struggle to cope with the recession.

Commenting, chief executive of consumer body Which? Peter Vicary-Smith said: "If you're struggling with basic living costs such as rent and utility bills then you may be eligible to get your claims fast-tracked under the terms of the waiver.

"The FSA must take action against any bank ignoring the financial plight of its customers," he added.

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