11 February 2014
FAIR PLAY ON FEES LAUNCHES CASES AGAINST WESTPAC, ASB AND BNZ
Fair Play on Fees has today announced that proceedings will be issued against major New Zealand banks Westpac, BNZ and ASB as part of its group legal action against unfair penalty fees.
Fair Play on Fees lawyer Andrew Hooker said it would lodge court documents against the three banks on Friday 28 February 2014 Westpac, BNZ and ASB customers must register at www.fairplayonfees.co.nz by 11pm on Thursday 27 February 2014 to confirm their inclusion in the case.
See background video here.
The launch of Fair Play on Fees has seen more than 38,800 Kiwis sign up to date, of which over 7300 are Westpac customers, 5000 are BNZ customers and 6000 are ASB customers.
Cases against ANZ and Kiwibank were issued last year.
“The reason why it’s important to launch these next three cases is that there are customers of these banks who have paid these penalty fees and wish to be represented in this legal action,” Hooker says. “The research we have done suggests the penalty fees they have been paying are at a similar level to those other banks so these customers are entitled to have their fees back as much as Kiwibank and ANZ customers. This launch means that the five banks with over 90% of the retail banking market will all face a Fair Play on Fees case.”
The lead plaintiff for the case against BNZ is Chris Beere. Chris has banked with BNZ for approximately 35 years and in the past six years has incurred more than $1400 in default fees.
“There are times when the penalty fees, excessive or not, can cause significant problems,” Beere says. “I had a major health issue five years ago which meant I had to cease work abruptly. Unfortunately, the fees that I was incurring as a result of that situation kept piling up. When I went back through my bank statements I was a bit disturbed to find that I’d incurred nearly $1400 in these fees during a six year period.”
The lead plaintiffs for ASB and Westpac are Alison Withers and Renee and Mike Hau respectively. Alison worked for a bank when she left school and says customers are charged fees at a significantly higher rate now in the electronic age.
“The cost of banking administration these days astounds me, predominantly because I use to work in a bank and back then everything was done manually. These days everything administration wise is conducted electronically and yet the fees are a multitude of what they were in the past. I just can’t see what justifies these excessive fees.”
Hooker says the penalty fees include unarranged overdrafts (account out of order fees), rejected payments on deposit accounts (dishonour fees), exceeding credit limit (over limit fees) and late payment fees.
“The case against the bank is based on the principle of penalties. It is unlawful for any business to charge a penalty fee for a default or breach of terms which is out of kilter with the actual cost of the transaction,” Hooker says. “Our legal system in New Zealand recognises that businesses such as banks can’t charge more than the actual cost otherwise it’s deemed to be unlawful and must be repaid.”
Last week the Australian Federal Court ruled that ANZ in Australia had been illegally imposing penalties for late payments on credit cards in Australia.
The team behind the case is New Zealand lawyer Andrew Hooker, Australian class action experts Slater & Gordon and litigation funder Litigation Lending Services. The litigation is structured to ensure claimants have no upfront costs and nothing to lose by joining the action. All legal services are provided on a no win, no fee basis.
New Zealanders can join the action against unfair bank fees by registering at: www.fairplayonfees.co.nz.
For further information please contact:
Andrew Hooker Mobile: 021 907 700
Jillian Talbot Mobile: 021 493 820
About Andrew Hooker
Andrew is an Auckland based lawyer specialising in civil litigation. He has more than 20 years’ experience in insurance related litigation. Prior to working as a lawyer Andrew worked in claims and sales for a major New Zealand insurance company and also set up and ran a nationwide specialist insurance investigation company.
About Slater & Gordon
Slater & Gordon is Australia’s largest consumer law firm. For 75 years, Slaters have been standing up for the rights of ordinary working people, not big companies. Slater & Gordon have been pioneers in Australian class actions over the past 25 years. They will be lending their expertise in tough, large-scale litigation to this case as legal advisors.
About Litigation Lending Services
Litigation Lending Services is a litigation funding firm which will provide financial support to the case. Its parent company, Litigation Lending Services, has been operating for over 13 years in both Australia and New Zealand. Having established itself funding general commercial claims, the company has expanded over the past five years and has also funded a number of successful class actions.