The Supreme Court delivered a fresh blow to consumers waiting for bank charge refunds on Wednesday, as it ruled in favour of the banks in their long-running test case against the Office of Fair Trading.
The ruling means that up to 12 million consumers who have paid unauthorised overdraft fees, including those whose claims have been on hold, are now less likely to get their money back.
The move by the Supreme Court overturns earlier High Court and Court of Appeal rulings that would have allowed the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to investigate the fairness of charges for unauthorised overdrafts.
However, the Court provided a glimmer of hope for consumers by indicating that there may be other avenues open to the OFT to assess bank charges for fairness.
Supreme Court ruling is a ‘bitter blow’ for consumers
Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, says: ‘This is a bitter blow for the millions of people who have been patiently waiting to get their bank charges back.
‘Not only does it give banks licence to charge what they like for unauthorised overdrafts, but it could have ramifications for other areas of personal finance. The banks now have no excuse for introducing other fee charges.
‘The banks have done everything possible to frustrate the OFT throughout this process. The OFT and the Government should now explore other avenues it can pursue to get a fair deal for consumers.’
Bankers’ body seeks ‘swift conclusion’ to customer complaints
A statement from the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) commented: ‘We recognise this issue has been of real concern to a large number of our customers and we are pleased that this decision now brings clarity for all parties.
‘The Banks will work with the regulators to ensure that the outstanding customer complaints are brought to a swift conclusion. We will also continue to work together with the OFT in connection with its on-going market study.’
Britain Needs Better Banks
Which? recently launched a new banking campaign – Britain Needs Better Banks. Anyone who has been treated badly by their bank can visit to share their experience or to get advice about how to make an official complaint.
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