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February 6, 2008

County Court bank charge cases remain frozen

by Gill Montia

Story link: County Court bank charge cases remain frozen

Consumers who have taken action in the County Courts to recover overdraft charges will be disappointed by the latest turn of events in the High Court test case on bank fees.

When the Office of Fair Trading began proceedings against seven High Street bank to establish the legality of certain charges, thousands of County Court cases were frozen, awaiting the outcome of the High Court case.

The banks have pointed out that the legal stays on some County Court claims will end this week and Justice Andrew Smith has suggested that the stays remain in place until his judgement.

Justice Smith stated: “Many proceedings have been on hold in the expectation that this hearing will assist the management of the County Court litigation. I haven’t discerned anything during the hearing that undermines that expectation, and I don’t mind that being conveyed to those charged with managing the County Court cases.”

At the same time, the Judge has made it clear that he can not order the County Courts to keep claims frozen.

In the current situation, banks are required to log any new claims for the return of overdraft charges but these not being processed by either the courts or the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The High Court hearing could end this week but it is likely be several months before the Judge’s decision is made public, following which an appeal could be launched by the losing side.

 

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