Slater and Gordon fires first salvo in class action campaign

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Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and Colonial First State has been hit with the the first class action of Slater and Gordon’s recently launched “Get Your Super Back Campaign.”

Filed in the Federal Court, the claim could exceed $100m, the firm said. The claim, backed by global litigation funder Augusta Ventures, was filed on behalf of lead applicant Keith Kayler-Thomson.

“These are my retirement savings we’re talking about. I assumed that a big institution like Colonial could be trusted to act ethically and within the law,” he said.

“I’m angry. You can bet that if I owed Colonial or the Commonwealth Bank money they wouldn’t hesitate to force me to pay it back and they should do the same. I'd bet thousands of other Colonial members will feel exactly the same way.”

Ben Hardwick, Slater and Gordon head of class actions, said that he firm believes hundreds of thousands of Australians could be eligible to get their money back from Commonwealth Bank and Colonial First State.

“In some circumstances, the amounts may seem relatively small. But this is money that was hard-earned by working Australians and it’s time they got it back,” he said.

The class action alleges that Colonial First State invested member retirement savings with CBA, its parent bank, where it received uncompetitive bank interest rates.

“We will allege that by dumping members’ super with its parent bank, the CBA, Colonial First State failed to obtain the most competitive interest rate available for its members invested in cash-only investment options and balanced options where there is a cash component,” said Slater and Gordon Head of Class Actions Ben Hardwick.

“The class action will allege there is no excuse for Colonial First State to have accepted such a low rate from CBA when it could have easily obtained a higher rate – either from the CBA or from any other bank,” Hardwick said. “A superannuation fund trustee is obligated to act in the best interests of its members, not its parent company. That’s the law. This class action will allege Colonial First State placed the interests of its members beneath the interests of the Commonwealth Bank.”

“CBA has been paying some Colonial members rates as low as 1.25%, below even the RBA cash rate at 1.5%. If CBA had paid just an extra 0.5% per annum to a member with $100,000 in cash, that member would have earned an additional $2,235 over five years.”

The class action comes after Slater and Gordon field a class action in September at the Federal Court against National Australia Bank (NAB) and MLC. The suit alleged that NAB and MLC engaged in unconscionable conduct and breached the ASIC Act by selling insurance to credit card holders who were ineligible to claim under the terms of policy.