Barrister loses bank charges bidCase against NatWest is dismissed

31 July 2007

Twenty pound note and coins

If you're not getting the most from your account provider, you should take your business elsewhere

A barrister has lost his legal bid to gain compensation from a high street bank after it charged him around £2500 in bank fees.

City of London County Court told Tom Brennan he could not continue with his battle for damages from NatWest.

The news came as rival banking giant HSBC said it had handed back more than £100 million in overdraft charges to UK customers during the first half of the year.

Mr Brennan, a recently qualified barrister, had claimed that NatWest had acted unlawfully in taking the unauthorised overdraft charges.

Aggravated damages

He also wanted aggravated damages in recognition of the stress he encountered and the difficulty he had paying rent and purchasing necessary items.

NatWest had offered Mr Brennan around £3,000, which he refused.

He claimed the money he was offered did not diminish the damage caused to his credit rating, which could have adverse effects on future applications for credit cards and mortgages.

But Judge Peter Simpson said: ‘Mr Brennan had a very modest claim which had been fully satisfied.

‘He is seeking to enlarge the scope of this but the additional actions of his case are contrived. The facts will not support them.’

Test case

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) announced last week that it was launching a test case against the major banks in the High Court to establish whether their unauthorised overdraft charges were unfair.

Which? supports that move and believes this latest decision will not affect the test case as it deals with a different issue.

Tens of thousands of consumers have complained about penalty overdraft charges, which are levied on people who breach their authorised overdraft limits. Customers can be fined as much as £39 for a single bounced payment.