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25 April 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
Martin Lewis, creator of, has said the decision on bank charges which deemed them liable to being classified as unfair, is a "sensational victory" for the consumer.

"While the game's not over we're now on the penalty spot ready to shoot a goal," he said. "This is a real vindication of everything the bank charge reclaimers have been saying." He added that the ruling is "Fantastic news – for everyone but bankers!"

Mr Lewis recommends that people who have paid charges in the last six years start the process to reclaim bank charges as soon as possible, even though it could be several months before a final decision is reached over whether or not the banks can be forced to repay the charges.

If a customer delays making a claim, then they could forfeit the total they can get back, he said, because of the six year limit which is imposed on reclaiming the charges; if the claim has been logged then the clock stops on fees paid six years ago.

Mr Lewis is also more optimistic than some experts, who believe that a ruling in favour of the consumer now could metastasise into a disadvantage later if the banks retaliate by taking away free banking.

"We don’t have free banking in the UK anyway" he declared, "we have fees free banking while in credit. Ask most people with overdrafts if their bank is free, and they’ll think you’re having a laugh."

Which? has estimated that the banks could have to repay £9 billion in bank charges if the decision continues not to go there way, but Mr Lewis argues that this should be kept in perspective and is merely a drop in the ocean for banks – "a fraction of their write-offs due to the credit crunch," he said.

Hundreds of thousands of cases are on hold while there is a Financial Services Authority waiver in place which has halted the process until the charges are clarified by the courts. A timetable for the remaining stages in the process is expected to be announced at a court hearing on May 22nd.

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