Maurice Blackburn welcomes landmark ruling

by |
Law firm Maurice Blackburn claims a recent Federal Court ruling dealing with ANZ Bank’s late payment fees is likely to change the banking landscape in Australia.

In February, Federal Court Justice Michelle Gordon determined that late payment fees charged by ANZ Bank were excessive and constituted penalties for customers.

Justice Gordon found that ANZ's late fees of $20 and $35 exceeded the bank's true costs of dealing with late payments, sometimes by up to 7,000 per cent.

Andrew Watson, who heads Maurice Blackburn’s class action practice, said more than 185,000 people around Australia had been waiting four years for the decision.

Maurice Blackburn handled the ANZ Bank case for a group of 43,500 members, and is expected to reap a windfall in legal fees as a result of the decision.

The judgment also gives the green light for lawyers to pursue seven other major Australian banks and lenders that have similar customer class actions awaiting them.

Justice Michelle Gordon ruled in favour of customers regarding late payment fees, but upheld the bank's arguments on honour, dishonour and over-limit fees.

The class actions are funded by Bentham IMF (Australia), on a no-win no-fee basis, with Bentham IMF Investment Manager, James Middleweek, welcoming the ruling.

“ANZ and other banks will now have to repay most of the amount wherever and whenever it has been charged to their customers in the past six years or more, plus all the interest each customer has missed out on," Middleweek said.

"We note the Court did not find in our clients' favour in the matter of other exception fees - this is disappointing but we will review this part of the judgment carefully and consider our options,” he added.