Bank charges waiver extended…again

23 July 2009 / by Rebecca Sargent

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has extended the waiver that has allowed banks to put processing bank charges complaints on hold.

The FSA first granted the waiver in July 2007 when the bank charges test case between the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and a number of leading UK banks began. Since then, the waiver has been extended twice, and was extended yesterday for a further six months.

According to the FSA, the waiver is required because, despite some progress in the test case, the way that bank charges complaints are to be handled has not yet been decided.

The OFT claims that bank charges should be investigated under fairness rules, but banks remain adamant that the charges they levy for unauthorised overdrafts are fair.

Commenting on the waiver, Dan Waters, director of retail policy and conduct risk at the FSA said: "Although the test case is progressing well, we still do not have certainty on this complex issue.

"Our objective continues to be facilitating a fair and consistent resolution of consumer complaints about unauthorised overdraft charges."

However, even if the waiver was scrapped, it would not help people to get their money back, consumer body Which? argues. Phil Jones, personal finance campaigner at Which? sad:

"Scrapping the waiver won't get people their money back as the county courts and Financial Ombudsman are unlikely to process any cases until the test case is resolved.

"If people are really struggling with their finances and can't pay rent or vital expenses, then they can still have their claim heard as a hardship case. If this applies to you, contact your bank – under the terms of the waiver they have to consider your case."

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