By ninemsn staff and AAP
Hundreds of thousands of disgruntled bank customers are expected set to join a landmark legal challenge that could force banks to pay back millions of dollars in fees.
Litigation funder IMF Australia Ltd announced yesterday it will bankroll a class action against banks for the billions of dollars they made from what it claims are unfair exception fees.
The class action would be for the repayment of exception fees deducted from bank customer accounts during the past six years by local and foreign banks, IMF said in a statement.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn says more than 20,000 unhappy bank customers have already signed up to join Australia’s largest ever class action to recover allegedly unjust penalty fees.
Maurice Blackburn chairman Bernard Murphy said potential claimants were registering their interest at a rate of 1000 per hour, with 22,000 having contacted the firm by Thursday lunchtime.
Meanwhile, the ABC reported that up to 500,000 people are set to join the class action. Bank customers can register their interest in joining the campaign by visiting a website set up by IMF.
ninemsn was unable to get through to the hotline set up for bank customers to register their interest due to overwhelming demand.
The claims relate to honour fees and dishonour fees on bank accounts and over-limit and late-payments fees on credit card accounts, IMF said.
"Until very recently, some banks charged you up to $60 if you became overdrawn, went beyond an agreed limit, or made a late payment," IMF said on a website set up to attract possible participants in the class action.
"The true cost might only have been a few dollars at most on each transaction.
"Banks have made billions from these unfair charges," the website said, which urges those affected to join the proposed court action to get the money back.
The class action is expected to be based around legal argument that when a bank seeks redress for a customer breaking a contract it may only be able to recover a reasonable estimate of the cost, but the banks instead charge fees much higher than the actual cost.
The Reserve Bank of Australia has reported that banks charged exception fees of about $1.2 billion in 2008/09.
Last year National Australia Bank and Westpac axed some of their exception fees, and on Wednesday Commonwealth Bank of Australia cited reductions to retail exception fees for softer other-banking income in its quarterly report.
Financial Redress Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of IMF, will be responsible for organising each class action.:"
** After all the profits they have made during a recession whether manufactured or not… whilst people have lost their homes , Alan Kessing ,.. Farms,.. Peter Spenmcer,.. and at times Lives,.. the individules who died re the insulation debarcle…
Its good to see the little man may get some back. One thousand applications per hour, ……..RESPOSITY…………………………..
this remindes me of when JESUS THREW THE MONEY CHANGERS OUT OF THE TEMPLE…….
lets give all these rhinestone cowboys a good kick wher they deserve it