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April 8, 2009

One million wait on overdraft charges test case

by Gill Montia

Story link: One million wait on overdraft charges test case

The log-jam of dissatisfied bank customers waiting to reclaim unauthorised overdraft charges has reached almost one million.

Consumer website, Legal Beagles, has used the Freedom of Information Act to extract the figure from the Financial Services Authority.

The regulator issued a waiver in July 2007 allowing banks and county courts to hold fire on the complaints until the final judgment is made in a High Court Test case brought against seven banks and Nationwide Building Society by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

The waiver has already been extended and the latest developments in the case could mean the outcome is delayed until 2010.

Last year, Mr Justice Andrew Smith ruled that the OFT had the right to decide whether or not the charges were fair under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.

The banks challenged the ruling in the Appeal Court in March, but were unsuccessful.

However, the House of Lords has overturned the Appeal Court decision and given the banks until 15th April to lodge their petition.

It could be months before the appeal is heard.

Earlier this week, the OFT said it would try and speed up proceedings by focusing on the terms governing unauthorised overdrafts issued by three of the banks involved in the case.

The watchdog will concentrate initially on the terms behind charges made by Lloyds TSB, HSBC and Clydesdale Bank.


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