ASB is facing class action lawsuits from some of its clients who had personal and home loans. photo / file
A multi-million dollar class action lawsuit was launched against ANZ and ASB Banks, claiming they failed to fully reimburse around 150,000 customers for fees and interest that were violated.
The case is being reviewed by former Trade Commission attorney Scott Russell and attorney Davy Salmon, QC, and Ali Van Amers, and is jointly funded by Australian litigation fund CASL and New Zealand litigation fund LPF Group.
The complaint relates to two regulations of the Commission for Commerce with Banks, both of which admitted that they failed to provide accurate information to personal and home loan customers who had changed the terms of their loans during a given period. .
In May of this year, ASB agreed to pay $ 8.1 million to 73,000 customers after being unable to confirm that it had written credits to delinquent debtors between June 6, 2015 and June 18, 2019. Information of disclosure sent.
In March of last year, ANZ agreed to pay nearly 100,000 customers $ 29.4 million after confirming that it embezzled interest on loans from May 30, 2015 to May 29, 2016. was , as a result of a coding error in a loan calculator. by its front-line banking staff.
The lawyers allege that while the banks have made some corrective payments to affected customers, this remedy is only a fraction of what customers are entitled to under the Credit Debt Agreements and Financing Act 2003. consumers.
Russell said the law was very clear.
“If a bank does not meet its disclosure obligations, it is not legally permitted to charge interest or fees on the affected loan until the default is resolved.
“To the extent that a bank receives interest or charges to which it is not entitled, it must return or credit these amounts to the customer as soon as possible.”
Russell said that in this case the banks continued to charge interest and fees even though they were not allowed to do so.
“The failure of banks to reimburse their customers is a serious violation of the provisions of the CCCFA.”
The Herald has solicited comments from ASB and ANZ banks.
Lawyers are trying to have an opt-out class action lawsuit, which means everyone involved will be part of the case until they opt out.
CASL chief executive Stuart Price said the case was one of the most important class works it had funded.
“This goes to the heart of the vast power imbalance that exists between banks and their individual customers, who would not have the resources to take legal action against ANZ and ASB for their serious failings without litigation.”
He said a comprehensive review of the culture and conduct of Australian retail banks identified significant issues and a lack of accountability.
“We hope this class action lawsuit will encourage better service and respect for all of the bank’s customers, prevent future violations and improve regulatory compliance.” “
If the case is successful, clients will receive the amount paid by the bank, less all project costs such as legal fees and service charges payable to donors, which will vary between 16 percent and 23.5 percent. .
Customers who think they may be affected can find out more at www.bankingclassaction.com.
Bruno Bickerdike, an ASB client who is a representative plaintiff in the case, said he previously had a mortgage with the bank of around $ 565,000 and had diversified it into a revolving line of credit to renew.
He had since transferred his mortgage to another lender after buying another house, but he still had his personal accounts with ASB.
Bickerdike learned of possible lawsuits through Russell.
“He mentioned he was working on a case involving banks and I said I was with ASB and he said I might be affected.”
Bickerdike remembers that he received a $ 129 notice from the bank with reimbursement and charges for something to do with it.
“I didn’t really click at the time on the fact that there were obviously fees and interest in addition to the principal. So I thought it was something to do with ATM fees.
He said it was revealing to get a better understanding of what was going on behind the scenes, but didn’t know how much more the bank could give him.
“I almost don’t want to fumble because I don’t know, even if we are successful, I don’t know if they will try to settle and if they will give part of the money. But a relatively young mortgage with a monthly amount. The big part is the interest, not the main thing. Even if it’s only for 18 months, it starts to get pretty big.
But he said it wasn’t really about the money.
“It’s more than nobody controls the banks and their behavior makes them believe they are above the law. So there is no one to protect the small and the banks are making obscene profits. They should do better.
Bickerdike encouraged others who could potentially be affected.
“I don’t know if everyone got the information from their bank and I don’t know if everyone received the token amount payment, but I think it is if you are not sure and as you check it to see if they are affected. “
Anthony Simmons, another ASB client who is also a representative plaintiff, said the claim was for a previous mortgage with the bank that was in the range of approximately $ 500,000.
Simmons said he was made aware of the claim through a business relationship with the legal team.
“I went back to my bank account and looked at the amount. I didn’t think about it. I didn’t quite understand what it was at the time. I remember getting something from ASB, what it was really wasn’t that clear.
He said he trusted the bank to do the right thing.
“When I found out what it could be and what really happened, it was through the Trade Commission and the number of people affected and the fact that the Trade Commission found them guilty. . It made me feel a little yes.
Simon said this has reduced consumer confidence in banks.
“If the money paid by customers is not to be kept by the banks, they should give it back. Not just a part, but everything. “