Banks face class action over fees

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers this week filed a class action against Westpac, Citibank, St George, Bank of South Australia and ANZ in relation to customers charged with late bank fees.

The compensation law firm said in a communication that if the class action is successful, any customer of those institutions that has ever been charged late payment fees will have a “right to access some compensation for those unfair charges”.

Maurice Blackburn head of class action practice Andrew Watson said this follows the firm’s success earlier this year against ANZ on late fees, which has “opened the door for millions of customers to recoup what is rightfully theirs”.

“Our case is based on the earlier Federal Court ruling against ANZ,” said Mr Watson.

“Whilst that judgment is under appeal we think we have a very strong case and that this course of action provides the best safeguard for the rights of all those consumers affected by late fees.”

Mr Watson said the firm has plans to extend the action to CBA, NAB, BankWest and American Express as well.

“What we’re doing today opens the gates of justice to millions more Australians and means that previous estimates of the numbers of people affected and the compensation amounts owed will be dwarfed by the new state of play,” he said.

“This action is a great example of the importance of having a robust and mature class actions regime in place, so that individuals have a genuine opportunity to remedy wrongs that happen on a large scale.”

Maurice Blackburn said the class action is being funded by litigation funder Bentham IMF.

Bentham IMF investment manager and head of client group James Middleweek said the “open class proceedings will enable all bank customers who have suffered exorbitant late fees to benefit from a successful outcome to the bank fees litigation”.

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