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30,000 NAB customers to win unfair fees payout after class action

National Australia Bank is preparing to settle a class action over unfair fees. Picture: AFP National Australia Bank is preparing to settle a class action over unfair fees. Picture: AFP
ONE of the nation’s biggest banks is preparing to settle a class action over unfair fees, which could see up to 30,000 customers share in up to $40 million compensation.

National Australia Bank boss Andrew Thorburn has flagged to those advising NAB on corporate responsibility that he wants to resolve a long-running case over excessive credit card late fees and other charges.

The NAB’s surprise move towards a settlement will put pressure on rival banks, fending off similar legal actions, to do likewise.

The unfair fees class actions are among the biggest in Australian history.

If other major banks follow suit, hundreds of thousands of account holders stand to collect compensation.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn has estimated that the various class actions affect up to 45,000 CBA customers, 38,000 ANZ customers and 30,000 Westpac customers.

In a letter sent to members of the NAB’s Advisory Council on Corporate Responsibility on Tuesday night — seen by the Herald Sun — NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn revealed that court paperwork was lodged last week paving the way to wrap up a case which had been running since 2011.

The court application was “a first but significant step towards reaching a potential settlement”, he wrote.

“We are doing this because we believe this is the right thing to do for our customers and our business,” he wrote.

“Doing the right thing must be reflected not in our words, but in our actions.

“This first step to resolve the Bank Fees Class Action demonstrates we are committed to make things right.”

An interlocutory hearing has been scheduled for ­November 18 before Federal Court judge Peter Jacobson.

If the court approves a joint application by the bank and class action lawyers Maurice Blackburn, NAB customers who haven’t already done so will be invited to join the case to get access to any resulting settlement.

The Herald Sun understands a final settlement sum will then be negotiated based on the total number of account holders deemed eligible.

If the bank’s settlement offer is accepted, it is anticipated NAB could distribute payouts to its customers by mid next year.

The letter from Mr Thorburn says the registration process will be managed by IMF — the company bankrolling bank fees class actions against all of the major Australian ­financial institutions.

There are at least seven different class actions currently under way against Australian banks over excessive fees.

The NAB’s shock move comes ahead of an imminent ruling on an appeal to the Full Federal Court over a similar case against the ANZ bank over credit card late fees.

The appeal followed a ruling from Justice Michelle Gordon earlier this year that ANZ fees of up to $35 were “extravagant and unconscionable”.

Author: Fiona Hudson
Source: Herald Sun

 

Last modified onWednesday, 12 November 2014 02:47

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