Chief Justice of the Federal Court James Allsop this week delivered the judgment of the Full Court of the Federal Court, in response to appeals over last year’s judgment from both sides.
Last year’s ruling, handed down by Justice Michelle Gordon, found that late payment fees charged by the ANZ Bank were penalties, and thousands of customers should receive compensation for amounts that had been unfairly charged.
ANZ challenged that ruling while Maurice Blackburn, on behalf of the plaintiffs, challenged the ruling that other exception fees were not considered penalties.
However, on Wednesday the Full Court found in favour of ANZ by overturning Justice Gordon’s original decision that late fees were penalties and rejecting the plaintiffs’ argument that other exception fees ought to have been found to be penalties.
National head of class actions at Maurice Blackburn, Andrew Watson, said the plaintiff’s legal advisers would be reviewing the judgment with a view to making application for special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia.
“There is a public interest in having these issues resolved by Australia’s highest court,” Mr Watson said.
The class actions are being funded by IMF Bentham on a no-win no-fee basis.
ANZ welcomed the decision by the Full Federal Court of Australia in the bank's favour on all fees subject to appeal in the litigation brought by IMF Bentham Limited.
The case dates back to 2010 and involves claims that certain fees charged or formerly charged by ANZ in Australia are not enforceable, including late payment and overlimit fees on credit cards and honour, dishonour and non-payment fees on deposit accounts.
“Our long standing position has been these fees were lawful and we’re pleased this has been vindicated by the Full Federal Court," ANZ CEO Australia Mark Whelan said.
“We were particularly pleased the Court found there was no dishonesty on ANZ’s part and these avoidable fees were fairly and fully disclosed and there was no lack of good faith by ANZ," Mr Whelan said.
“We would hope today’s carefully reasoned and unanimous decision will put an end to this lengthy and expensive litigation that has been brought against the Bank by publicly listed litigation funder IMF Bentham,” he said.