Banks expected to appeal bank charges ruling tomorrow

21 May 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
The banks involved in the High Court test case which ruled to allow the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to challenge the legality and fairness of bank charges are expected to contest the decision tomorrow.

Nationwide Building Society is said to be actively considering making an appeal against the decision on 'unfair' bank charges, which could prolong a final decision for many more months, potentially into next year.

If the banks do not appeal and the OFT decides that the charges for unauthorised overdrafts and bounced cheques – sometimes as much as £39 – are unfair then they could be scrapped, to be replaced with ones that more accurately reflect the costs incurred by the banks.

The banking industry has been raking in a reported £3.5billion a year from bank charges, leaving many customers in even worse financial straits that they were before and causing thousands to make claims for a refund from their bank.

Since it was announced that the case would be settled in court, the Financial Services Authority has implemented a freeze on reclaiming bank charges, but consumer groups are urging disgruntled customers to continue making claims in the hope that the OFT emerges victorious.

Martin Lewis, creator of consumer revenge website, said: "The volume of reclaimers is staggering; this truly is an armchair consumer revolution. It's hoped the banks won't delay the process further by appealing this decision.

Even if the banks do appeal the decision, the court has still ruled that bank charges are subject to the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulation (UTCCR) 1999. So, "whatever happens in the Court," he said, "it's time the regulator, the FSA, lifted its hold on reclaiming and gave people a chance to get their money back."

The banks will have the opportunity to lodge their appeal at a case management conference at the High Court in London tomorrow.

© Fair Investment Company Ltd