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Banks lose overdraft charges case

Mr Justice Andrew Smith's decision will affect millions of bank customers

The UK's biggest banks have lost a test case about overdraft charges.

A judge has decided that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) can apply consumer contract regulations to decide if bank overdraft charges are fair or not.

But Mr Justice Andrew Smith said the judgement did not necessarily mean the charges are unfair.

Further hearings are expected which may delay the cases of thousands of claimants trying to reclaim their charges arguing they are too high.

Cases currently on hold in the county courts will stay on hold until 22 May, by which date the banks must decide whether they are going to appeal against the ruling.

Doug Taylor, personal finance campaigns manager at Which?, said: "The banks should do the right thing now and concede defeat, agree with the OFT what constitutes a fair unauthorised overdraft fee and refund their customers as soon as possible."

But the judge also decided against the OFT, saying that the banks' terms and conditions were plain and intelligible.

This judgement continues the process which could eventually allow the OFT to decide what a fair charge would be for unauthorised overdrafts.

Further cases

The OFT first agreed last July, with seven banks and the Nationwide building society, to stage the test case to decide if it had the power under consumer contract regulations to regulate overdraft charges.

The issue of the OFT's jurisdiction was then thrashed out during 14 days of complicated High Court hearings in January and February.

Further High Court hearings are now expected to decide the exact level of charges, leading to further delays for hundreds of thousands of claimants.

At stake is not only the ability of aggrieved customers to reclaim their charges but also the ability of the banks to generate an estimated £3.5bn a year in income from levying them.

If the banks eventually suffer a complete defeat on the issue, then it has been widely predicted that they will try to recoup their losses by abandoning the long standing policy of so-called "free banking" for customers in credit.

Instead, monthly or annual charges could be introduced as standard for running an ordinary current account.
Ahhhhhh shame. :wink:

Ahahahaha. God I love it when the law over rules the business world. Thank you all my money back. Later dudes. o:)

Still have to sue them, but should be a formality now. In your face Hitler!
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Oh cool I can get a fortune back as well.
Wah thats good news :smile:
i suspect the bank in our country also overcharge somehow
but businesses here tends to use money to bias our government
You have no idea, this week my bank charged me £150 and removed my whole dole check in one go leaving me no money to pay for anything for the next two weeks, I had to get a crisis loan to support myself. I have already written a letter saying I will see them in court before this decision, but usually such small amounts are written off, I've told them if they press the matter further I will go for the last six years and that will mean I actually get about £50 back. :rofl:

I'm also going to be taking another bank to court for £750 so I stand to make quite a windfall out of this assuming I win and that's now pretty much a formality. :biggrin:

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