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ANZ class action: Lawyers lodge appeal against Federal Court ruling

Photo: An appeal has been lodged in the Federal Court in the ongoing class-action case against ANZ over excessive bank fees. (News Online Sydney) Photo: An appeal has been lodged in the Federal Court in the ongoing class-action case against ANZ over excessive bank fees. (News Online Sydney)
Law firm Maurice Blackburn has lodged an appeal in the Federal Court over the results in its class action against ANZ over bank fees.

The class action, the largest in Australian history, was launched against ANZ bank over the fees it charged more than 43,500 customers.

It is part of a broader action against a total of eight banks and the fees they charged their customers, and is funded by publicly listed litigator Bentham IMF.

The ANZ case is seen as a test case ahead of the action against the other banks.

Last month, Justice Michelle Gordon found ANZ had illegally charged late payment fees to its customers.

But it only amounted to a partial victory for Maurice Blackburn because Justice Gordon ruled that honour and dishonour fees and over-limit fees were lawful.

Maurice Blackburn senior associate Paul Gillett says the appeal argues that the customers are entitled to a refund of honour and dishonour fees and over-limit fees in the same way as the late payment fees are to be repaid.

"There are obviously a number of different courses of actions which are set out in our court documents and our notice of appeal but, in a nutshell, I think you can boil it down to three general propositions," he told the ABC.

"Firstly, we say that if the wording of the contracts is analysed, that there is a reasonable chance that a full court will agree with our submission that those contracts in fact mean that ANZ was not allowing its customers to overdraw and that therefore those fees were payable on breach of contract.

"The second element of the appeal is, in broad terms, that the fees were as a result of penalties and illegal - and that illegality is evidenced by ANZ's failure to set the fees by reference to a genuine pre-estimate of damage.

"And thirdly, in relation to the statutory courses of action which deal with unconscionable conduct and unfair contract terms, we say that a proper consideration of the disparity between the amount of the fees and the underlying costs in fact leads to a conclusion that those fees were unconscionable and unfair under statute."

The late fee component is thought to make up about a quarter of the total $57 million claim.

ANZ is still considering its position and whether to appeal against last month's ruling.

It is understood the bank still has another three weeks to lodge an appeal.

Author: Amy Bainbridge
Source: ABC News


Last modified onWednesday, 26 March 2014 03:49

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